The Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe
Her Letters and Journals
By Her Son
Charles Edward Stowe
[Illustration: Handwritten Preface
It seems but fitting, that I should preface this story of my life, with a few words of introduction.
The desire to leave behind me some reflection of my life, has been cherished by me, for many years past; but failing strength and increasing infirmities have prevented its accomplishment.
At my suggestion and with what assistance I have been able to render my son Revd. Charles Edward Stow, has compiled from my letters and journals, this biography. It is this true story of my own words, and has therefore all the force of an autobiography.
It is perhaps much more accurate as to detail & impression than is possible with any autobiography, written later in life.
If these pages, shall lead those who read them to a firmer trust in God and a deeper sense of this fatherly goodness throughout the days of our Earthly pilgrimage I can stay with Valient for Faith in the Pilgrim's Progress.
I am going to my Father's & this with great difficulty. I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the troubles I have been at, to arrive where I am.
My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage & my courages & skills to him that can get it.
(Signed) Harriet Beecher Stowe]
I desire to express my thanks here to Harper & Brothers,
CHARLES E. STOWE.
DEATH OF HER MOTHER.--FIRST JOURNEY FROM HOME.--LIFE AT NUT
PLAINS.--SCHOOL DAYS AND HOURS WITH FAVORITE AUTHORS.--THE NEW MOTHER.--
SCHOOL DAYS IN
MISS CATHERINE BEECHER.--PROFESSOR FISHER.--THE WRECK OF THE
DR. BEECHER CALLED TO CINCINNATI.--THE
EARLY MARRIED LIFE, 1836-1840.
PROFESSOR STOWE'S INTEREST IN POPULAR EDUCATION.--HIS
DEPARTURE FOR EUROPE.--SLAVERY RIOTS IN CINCINNATI.--BIRTH OF TWIN
DAUGHTERS.--PROFESSOR STOWE'S RETURN AND VISIT TO COLUMBUS.--DOMESTIC
TRIALS.--AIDING A FUGITIVE SLAVE.--AUTHORSHIP UNDER DIFFICULTIES.--A
POVERTY AND SICKNESS, 1840-1850.
FAMINE IN CINCINNATI.--SUMMER AT THE EAST.--PLANS FOR LITERARY WORK.--EXPERIENCE ON A RAILROAD.--DEATH OF HER BROTHER GEORGE.--SICKNESS AND DESPAIR.--A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF HEALTH.--GOES TO BRATTLEBORO' WATER-CURE.--TROUBLES AT LANE SEMINARY.--CHOLERA IN CINCINNATI.--DEATH OF YOUNGEST CHILD.--DETERMINED TO LEAVE THE WEST.
MRS. STOWE'S REMARKS ON WRITING AND UNDERSTANDING
BIOGRAPHY.--THEIR APPROPRIATENESS TO HER OWN BIOGRAPHY.--REASONS FOR PROFESSOR
STOWE'S LEAVING CINCINNATI.--MRS. STOWE'S JOURNEY TO BROOKLYN.--HER BROTHER'S
UNCLE TOM'S CABIN, 1852.
"UNCLE TOM'S CABIN" AS A SERIAL IN THE "NATIONAL ERA."--AN OFFER FOR ITS PUBLICATION IN BOOK FORM.--WILL IT BE A SUCCESS?--AN UNPRECEDENTED CIRCULATION.--CONGRATULATORY MESSAGES.--KIND WORDS FROM ABROAD.--MRS. STOWE TO THE EARL OF CARLISLE.--LETTERS FROM AND TO LORD SHAFTESBURY. --CORRESPONDENCE WITH ARTHUR HELPS.
FIRST TRIP TO
THE EDMONDSONS.--BUYING SLAVES TO SET THEM FREE.--JENNY LIND.--PROFESSOR STOWE IS CALLED TO ANDOVER.--FITTING UP THE NEW HOME.--THE "KEY TO UNCLE TOM'S CABIN."--"UNCLE TOM" ABROAD.--HOW IT WAS PUBLISHED IN ENGLAND.--PREFACE TO THE EUROPEAN EDITION.--THE BOOK IN FRANCE.--IN GERMANY.--A GREETING FROM CHARLES KINGSLEY.--PREPARING TO VISIT SCOTLAND.--LETTER TO MRS. FOLLEN
SUNNY MEMORIES, 1853.
CROSSING THE ATLANTIC.--ARRIVAL IN ENGLAND.--RECEPTION IN
LIVERPOOL.--WELCOME TO SCOTLAND.--A
FROM OVER THE SEA, 1853.
THE EARL OF CARLISLE.--ARTHUR HELPS.--THE
DUKE AND DUCHESS OF ARGYLL. --MARTIN FARQUHAR TUPPER.--A MEMORABLE
MEETING AT STAFFORD HOUSE.--MACAULAY AND DEAN MILMAN.--WINDSOR
CASTLE.--PROFESSOR STOWE RETURNS TO AMERICA.--MRS. STOWE ON THE
CONTINENT.--IMPRESSIONS OF PARIS.--
HOME AGAIN, 1853-1856.
ANTI-SLAVERY WORK.--STIRRING TIMES IN THE UNITED
STATES.--ADDRESS TO THE LADIES OF GLASGOW.--APPEAL TO THE WOMEN OF
AMERICA.--CORRESPONDENCE WITH WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON.--THE WRITING OF
"DRED."--FAREWELL LETTER FROM GEORGIANA MAY.--SECOND VOYAGE TO
SECOND VISIT TO ENGLAND.--A GLIMPSE AT THE QUEEN.--THE DUKE OF ARGYLL AND INVERARY.--EARLY CORRESPONDENCE WITH LADY BYRON.--DUNROBIN CASTLE AND ITS INMATES.--A VISIT TO STOKE PARK.--LORD DUFFERIN.--HARLES KINGSLEY AT HOME.--PARIS REVISITED.--MADAME MOHL'S RECEPTIONS
OLD SCENES REVISITED, 1856.
EN ROUTE TO ROME.--TRIALS OF TRAVEL.--A MIDNIGHT ARRIVAL AND
AN INHOSPITABLE RECEPTION.--GLORIES OF THE ETERNAL CITY.--
THE MINISTER'S WOOING, 1857-1859.
DEATH OF MRS. STOWE'S OLDEST SON.--LETTER TO THE DUCHESS OF
SUTHERLAND.--LETTER TO HER DAUGHTERS IN PARIS.--LETTER TO HER SISTER
THE THIRD TRIP TO
THIRD VISIT TO EUROPE.--LADY BYRON ON "THE MINISTER'S WOOING."--SOME FOREIGN PEOPLE AND THINGS AS THEY APPEARED TO PROFESSOR STOWE.--A WINTER IN ITALY.--THINGS UNSEEN AND UNREVEALED.--SPECULATIONS CONCERNING SPIRITUALISM.--JOHN RUSKIN.--MRS. BROWNING.--THE RETURN TO AMERICA.--LETTERS TO DR. HOLMES
THE CIVIL WAR, 1860-1865.
THE OUTBREAK OF CIVIL WAR.--MRS. STOWE'S SON ENLISTS.--THANKSGIVING DAY IN WASHINGTON.--THE PROCLAMATION OF EMANCIPATION.--REJOICINGS IN BOSTON.--FRED STOWE AT GETTYSBURG.--LEAVING ANDOVER AND SETTLING IN HARTFORD.--A REPLY TO THE WOMEN OF ENGLAND.--LETTERS FROM JOHN BRIGHT, ARCHBISHOP WHATELY, AND NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.
LETTER TO DUCHESS OF ARGYLL.--MRS.
STOWE DESIRES TO HAVE A HOME AT THE SOUTH.--
OLDTOWN FOLKS, 1869.
PROFESSOR STOWE THE ORIGINAL OF "HARRY" IN "OLDTOWN FOLKS."--PROFESSOR STOWE'S LETTER TO GEORGE ELIOT.--HER REMARKS ON THE SAME.--PROFESSOR STOWE'S NARRATIVE OF HIS YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES IN THE WORLD OF SPIRITS. --PROFESSOR STOWE'S INFLUENCE ON MRS. STOWE'S LITERARY LIFE.--GEORGE ELIOT ON "OLDTOWN FOLKS."
THE BYRON CONTROVERSY, 1869-1870.
MRS. STOWE'S STATEMENT OF HER OWN CASE.--THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH SHE FIRST MET LADY BYRON.--LETTERS TO LADY BYRON.--LETTER TO DR. HOLMES WHEN ABOUT TO PUBLISH "THE TRUE STORY OF LADY BYRON'S LIFE" IN THE "ATLANTIC."--DR. HOLMES'S REPLY.--THE CONCLUSION OF THE MATTER.
CORRESPONDENCE WITH GEORGE ELIOT.--GEORGE ELIOT'S FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MRS. STOWE.--MRS. STOWE'S LETTER TO MRS. FOLLEN.--GEORGE ELIOT'S LETTER TO MRS. STOWE.--MRS. STOWE'S REPLY.--LIFE IN FLORIDA.--ROBERT DALE OWEN AND MODERN SPIRITUALISM.--GEORGE ELIOT'S LETTER ON THE PHENOMENA OF SPIRITUALISM.--MRS. STOWE'S DESCRIPTION OF SCENERY IN FLORIDA.--MRS. STOWE CONCERNING "MIDDLEMARCH."--GEORGE ELIOT TO MRS. STOWE DURING REV. H. W. BEECHER'S TRIAL.--MRS. STOWE CONCERNING HER LIFE EXPERIENCE WITH HER BROTHER, H. W. BEECHER, AND His TRIAL.--MRS. LEWES' LAST LETTER TO MRS. STOWE.--DIVERSE MENTAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THESE TWO WOMEN.--MRS. STOWE'S FINAL ESTIMATE OF MODERN SPIRITUALISM.
CLOSING SCENES, 1870-1889.
LITERARY LABORS.--COMPLETE LIST OF PUBLISHED BOOKS.--FIRST
PORTRAIT OF MRS. STOWE. From a
SILVER INKSTAND PRESENTED TO MRS. STOWE BY HER ENGLISH ADMIRERS IN
PORTRAIT OF MRS. STOWE'S GRANDMOTHER, ROXANNA FOOTE. From a miniature painted on ivory by her daughter, Mrs. Lyman Beecher.
PORTRAIT OF CATHERINE E. BEECHER. From a photograph taken in 1875
THE HOME AT WALNUT HILLS,
PORTRAIT OF HENRY WARD BEECHER. From a photograph by Rockwood, in 1884
MANUSCRIPT PAGE OF "UNCLE TOM'S CABIN" (facsimile)
THE ANDOVER HOME. From a painting by F. Rondel, in 1860, owned by Mrs. H. F. Allen.
PORTRAIT OF LYMAN
PORTRAIT OF THE DUCHESS OF SUTHERLAND. From an engraving presented to Mrs. Stowe.
THE OLD HOME AT
THE HOME AT MANDARIN,
PORTRAIT OF CALVIN ELLIS STOWE. From a photograph taken in 1882
PORTRAIT OF MRS. STOWE. From a
photograph by Ritz and
THE LATER HARTFORD HOME
DEATH OF HER MOTHER.--FIRST JOURNEY FROM HOME.--LIFE AT NUT
PLAINS.--SCHOOL DAYS AND HOURS WITH FAVORITE AUTHORS.--THE NEW MOTHER.--
Harriet Beecher (Stowe) was born June 14, 1811, in the
characteristic New England town of
The first memorable incident of Harriet's life was the death of her mother, which occurred when she was four years old, and which ever afterwards remained with her as the tenderest, saddest, and most sacred memory of her childhood. Mrs. Stowe's recollections of her mother are found in a letter to her brother Charles, afterwards published in the "Autobiography and Correspondence of Lyman Beecher." She says:--
"I was between three and four years of age when our mother died, and my personal recollections of her are therefore but few. But the deep interest and veneration that she inspired in all who knew her were such that during all my childhood I was constantly hearing her spoken of, and from one friend or another some incident or anecdote of her life was constantly being impressed upon me.
"Mother was one of those strong, restful, yet widely sympathetic natures in whom all around seemed to find comfort and repose. The communion between her and my father was a peculiar one. It was an intimacy throughout the whole range of their being. There was no human mind in whose decisions he had greater confidence. Both intellectually and morally he regarded her as the better and stronger portion of himself, and I remember hearing him say that after her death his first sensation was a sort of terror, like that of a child suddenly shut out alone in the dark.
"In my own childhood only two incidents of my mother twinkle like rays through the darkness. One was of our all running and dancing out before her from the nursery to the sitting-room one Sabbath morning, and her pleasant voice saying after us, 'Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, children.'
"Another remembrance is this: mother was an
enthusiastic horticulturist in all the small ways that limited means allowed.
Her brother John in
"Also I remember that there was not even a momentary expression of impatience, but that she sat down and said, 'My dear children, what you have done makes mamma very sorry. Those were not onions but roots of beautiful flowers, and if you had let them alone we should have next summer in the garden great beautiful red and yellow flowers such as you never saw.' I remember how drooping and dispirited we all grew at this picture, and how sadly we regarded the empty paper bag.
"Then I have a recollection of her reading aloud to the children Miss Edgeworth's 'Frank,' which had just come out, I believe, and was exciting a good deal of attention among the educational circles of Litchfield. After that came a time when every one said she was sick, and I used to be permitted to go once a day into her room, where she sat bolstered up in bed. I have a vision of a very fair face with a bright red spot on each cheek and her quiet smile. I remember dreaming one night that mamma had got well, and of waking with loud transports of joy that were hushed down by some one who came into the room. My dream was indeed a true one. She was forever well.
"Then came the funeral. Henry was too little to go. I can see his golden curls and little black frock as he frolicked in the sun like a kitten, full of ignorant joy.
"I recollect the mourning dresses, the tears of the older children, the walking to the burial-ground, and somebody's speaking at the grave. Then all was closed, and we little ones, to whom it was so confused, asked where she was gone and would she never come back.
"They told us at one time that she had been laid in the ground, and at another that she had gone to heaven. Thereupon Henry, putting the two things together, resolved to dig through the ground and go to heaven to find her; for being discovered under sister Catherine's window one morning digging with great zeal and earnestness, she called to him to know what he was doing. Lifting his curly head, he answered with great simplicity, 'Why, I'm going to heaven to find mamma.'
"Although our mother's bodily presence thus disappeared from our circle, I think her memory and example had more influence in moulding her family, in deterring from evil and exciting to good, than the living presence of many mothers. It was a memory that met us everywhere, for every person in the town, from the highest to the lowest, seemed to have been so impressed by her character and life that they constantly reflected some portion of it back upon us.
"The passage in 'Uncle Tom' where Augustine St. Clare describes his mother's influence is a simple reproduction of my own mother's influence as it has always been felt in her family."
Of his deceased wife Dr. Beecher said: "Few women have attained to more remarkable piety. Her faith was strong and her prayer prevailing. It was her wish that all her sons should devote themselves to the ministry, and to it she consecrated them with fervent prayer. Her prayers have been heard. All her sons have been converted and are now, according to her wish, ministers of Christ."
Such was Roxanna Beecher, whose influence upon her
four-year-old daughter was strong enough to mould the whole after-life of the
author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." After the mother's death the
Litchfield home was such a sad, lonely place for the child that her aunt,
Harriet Foote, took her away for a long visit at her grandmother's at Nut
"Among my earliest recollections are those of a visit to Nut Plains immediately after my mother's death. Aunt Harriet Foote, who was with mother during all her last sickness, took me home to stay with her. At the close of what seemed to me a long day's ride we arrived after dark at a lonely little white farmhouse, and were ushered into a large parlor where a cheerful wood fire was crackling; I was placed in the arms of an old lady, who held me close and wept silently, a thing at which I marveled, for my great loss was already faded from my childish mind.
"I remember being put to bed by my aunt in a large room, on one side of which stood the bed appropriated to her and me, and on the other that of my grandmother. My aunt Harriet was no common character. A more energetic human being never undertook the education of a child. Her ideas of education were those of a vigorous English woman of the old school. She believed in the Church, and had she been born under that regime would have believed in the king stoutly, although being of the generation following the Revolution she was a not less stanch supporter of the Declaration of Independence.
[Illustration: Roxanna Foote]
"According to her views little girls were to be taught to move very gently, to speak softly and prettily, to say 'yes ma'am,' and 'no ma'am,' never to tear their clothes, to sew, to knit at regular hours, to go to church on Sunday and make all the responses, and to come home and be catechised.
"During these catechisings she used to place my little cousin Mary and myself bolt upright at her knee, while black Dinah and Harry, the bound boy, were ranged at a respectful distance behind us; for Aunt Harriet always impressed it upon her servants 'to order themselves lowly and reverently to all their betters,' a portion of the Church catechism that always pleased me, particularly when applied to them, as it insured their calling me 'Miss Harriet,' and treating me with a degree of consideration such as I never enjoyed in the more democratic circle at home. I became proficient in the Church catechism, and gave my aunt great satisfaction by the old-fashioned gravity and steadiness with which I learned to repeat it.
"As my father was a Congregational minister, I believe
Aunt Harriet, though the highest of
"At this lengthening of exercise I secretly murmured. I was rather pleased at the first question in the Church catechism, which is certainly quite on the level of any child's understanding,--'What is your name?' It was such an easy good start, I could say it so loud and clear, and I was accustomed to compare it with the first question in the Primer, 'What is the chief end of man?' as vastly more difficult for me to answer. In fact, between my aunt's secret unbelief and my own childish impatience of too much catechism, the matter was indefinitely postponed after a few ineffectual attempts, and I was overjoyed to hear her announce privately to grandmother that she thought it would be time enough for Harriet to learn the Presbyterian catechism when she went home."
Mingled with this superabundance of catechism and plentiful
needlework the child was treated to copious extracts from Lowth's Isaiah,
Buchanan's Researches in
It must have been during this winter spent at Nut Plains, amid such surroundings, that Harriet began committing to memory that wonderful assortment of hymns, poems, and scriptural passages from which in after years she quoted so readily and effectively, for her sister Catherine, in writing of her the following November, says:--
"Harriet is a very good girl. She has been to school all this summer, and has learned to read very fluently. She has committed to memory twenty-seven hymns and two long chapters in the Bible. She has a remarkably retentive memory and will make a very good scholar."
At this time the child was five years old, and a regular
attendant at "Ma'am Kilbourne's" school on
In recalling her own child-life Mrs. Stowe, among other things, describes her father's library, and gives a vivid bit of her own experiences within its walls. She says: "High above all the noise of the house, this room had to me the air of a refuge and a sanctuary. Its walls were set round from floor to ceiling with the friendly, quiet faces of books, and there stood my father's great writing-chair, on one arm of which lay open always his Cruden's Concordance and his Bible. Here I loved to retreat and niche myself down in a quiet corner with my favorite books around me. I had a kind of sheltered feeling as I thus sat and watched my father writing, turning to his books, and speaking from time to time to himself in a loud, earnest whisper. I vaguely felt that he was about some holy and mysterious work quite beyond my little comprehension, and I was careful never to disturb him by question or remark.
"The books ranged around filled me too with a solemn
awe. On the lower shelves were enormous folios, on whose backs I spelled in
black letters, 'Lightfoot Opera,' a title whereat I wondered, considering the
bulk of the volumes. Above these, grouped along in friendly, social rows, were books of all sorts, sizes, and bindings, the
titles of which I had read so often that I knew them by heart. There were
"But there was one of my father's books that proved a
mine of wealth to me. It was a happy hour when he brought home and set up in
his bookcase Cotton Mather's 'Magnalia,' in a new edition of two volumes. What
wonderful stories those! Stories too about my own country.
Stories that made me feel the very ground I trod on to be consecrated by some
special dealing of God's
[Illustration: BIRTHPLACE AT
In continuing these reminiscences Mrs. Stowe describes as follows her sensations upon first hearing the Declaration of Independence: "I had never heard it before, and even now had but a vague idea of what was meant by some parts of it. Still I gathered enough from the recital of the abuses and injuries that had driven my nation to this course to feel myself swelling with indignation, and ready with all my little mind and strength to applaud the concluding passage, which Colonel Talmadge rendered with resounding majesty. I was as ready as any of them to pledge my life, fortune, and sacred honor for such a cause. The heroic element was strong in me, having come down by ordinary generation from a long line of Puritan ancestry, and just now it made me long to do something, I knew not what: to fight for my country, or to make some declaration on my own account."
When Harriet was nearly six years old her father married as
his second wife Miss Harriet Porter of
"Never did stepmother make a prettier or sweeter impression. The morning following her arrival we looked at her with awe. She seemed to us so fair, so delicate, so elegant, that we were almost afraid to go near her. We must have appeared to her as rough, red-faced, country children, honest, obedient, and bashful. She was peculiarly dainty and neat in all her ways and arrangements, and I used to feel breezy, rough, and rude in her presence.
"In her religion she was distinguished for a most unfaltering Christ-worship. She was of a type noble but severe, naturally hard, correct, exact and exacting, with intense natural and moral ideality. Had it not been that Doctor Payson had set up and kept before her a tender, human, loving Christ, she would have been only a conscientious bigot. This image, however, gave softness and warmth to her religious life, and I have since noticed how her Christ-enthusiasm has sprung up in the hearts of all her children."
In writing to her old home of her first impressions of her new one, Mrs. Beecher says: "It is a very lovely family, and with heartfelt gratitude I observed how cheerful and healthy they were. The sentiment is greatly increased, since I perceive them to be of agreeable habits and some of them of uncommon intellect."
This new mother proved to be indeed all that the name implies to her husband's children, and never did they have occasion to call her aught other than blessed.
Another year finds a new baby brother, Frederick by name, added to the family. At this time too we catch a characteristic glimpse of Harriet in one of her sister Catherine's letters. She says: "Last week we interred Tom junior with funeral honors by the side of old Tom of happy memory. Our Harriet is chief mourner always at their funerals. She asked for what she called an _epithet_ for the gravestone of Tom junior, which I gave as follows:--
"Here lies our Kit, Who had a fit,
And acted queer,
Shot with a gun, Her race is run,
And she lies here."
In June, 1820, little
Following her happy, hearty child-life, we find her tramping through the woods or going on fishing excursions with her brothers, sitting thoughtfully in her father's study, listening eagerly to the animated theological discussions of the day, visiting her grandmother at Nut Plains, and figuring as one of the brightest scholars in the Litchfield Academy, taught by Mr. John Brace and Miss Pierce. When she was eleven years old her brother Edward wrote of her: "Harriet reads everything she can lay hands on, and sews and knits diligently."
At this time she was no longer the youngest girl of the family, for another sister (Isabella) had been born in 1822. This event served greatly to mature her, as she was intrusted with much of the care of the baby out of school hours. It was not, however, allowed to interfere in any way with her studies, and, under the skillful direction of her beloved teachers, she seemed to absorb knowledge with every sense. She herself writes: "Much of the training and inspiration of my early days consisted not in the things that I was supposed to be studying, but in hearing, while seated unnoticed at my desk, the conversation of Mr. Brace with the older classes. There, from hour to hour, I listened with eager ears to historical criticisms and discussions, or to recitations in such works as Paley's Moral Philosophy, Blair's Rhetoric, Allison on Taste, all full of most awakening suggestions to my thoughts.
"Mr. Brace exceeded all teachers I ever knew in the faculty of teaching composition. The constant excitement in which he kept the minds of his pupils, the wide and varied regions of thought into which he led them, formed a preparation for composition, the main requisite for which is to have something which one feels interested to say."
In her tenth year Harriet began what to her was the fascinating work of writing compositions, and so rapidly did she progress that at the school exhibition held when she was twelve years old, hers was one of the two or three essays selected to be read aloud before the august assembly of visitors attracted by the occasion.
Of this event Mrs. Stowe writes: "I remember well the scene at that exhibition, to me so eventful. The hall was crowded with all the literati of Litchfield. Before them all our compositions were read aloud. When mine was read I noticed that father, who was sitting on high by Mr. Brace, brightened and looked interested, and at the close I heard him ask, 'Who wrote that composition?' 'Your daughter, sir,' was the answer. It was the proudest moment of my life. There was no mistaking father's face when he was pleased, and to have interested him was past all juvenile triumphs."
That composition has been carefully preserved, and on the old yellow sheets the cramped childish hand-writing is still distinctly legible. As the first literary production of one who afterwards attained such distinction as a writer, it is deemed of sufficient value and interest to be embodied in this biography exactly as it was written and read sixty-five years ago. The subject was certainly a grave one to be handled by a child of twelve.
CAN THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL BE PROVED BY THE LIGHT OF NATURE?
It has justly been concluded by the philosophers of every age that "The proper study of mankind is man," and his nature and composition, both physical and mental, have been subjects of the most critical examination. In the course of these researches many have been at a loss to account for the change which takes place in the body at the time of death. By some it has been attributed to the flight of its tenant, and by others to its final annihilation.
The questions, "What becomes of the soul at the time of death?" and, if it be not annihilated, "What is its destiny after death?" are those which, from the interest that we all feel in them, will probably engross universal attention.
In pursuing these inquiries it will be necessary to divest ourselves of all that knowledge which we have obtained from the light which revelation has shed over them, and place ourselves in the same position as the philosophers of past ages when considering the same subject.
The first argument which has been advanced to prove the immortality of the soul is drawn from the nature of the mind itself. It has (say the supporters of this theory) no composition of parts, and therefore, as there are no particles, is not susceptible of divisibility and cannot be acted upon by decay, and therefore if it will not decay it will exist forever.
Now because the mind is not susceptible of decay effected in the ordinary way by a gradual separation of particles, affords no proof that that same omnipotent power which created it cannot by another simple exertion of power again reduce it to nothing. The only reason for belief which this argument affords is that the soul cannot be acted upon by decay. But it does not prove that it cannot destroy its existence. Therefore, for the validity of this argument, it must either be proved that the "Creator" has not the power to destroy it, or that he has not the will; but as neither of these can be established, our immortality is left dependent on the pleasure of the Creator. But it is said that it is evident that the Creator designed the soul for immortality, or he would never have created it so essentially different from the body, for had they both been designed for the same end they would both have been created alike, as there would have been no object in forming them otherwise. This only proves that the soul and body had not the same destinations. Now of what these destinations are we know nothing, and after much useless reasoning we return where we began, our argument depending upon the good pleasure of the Creator.
And here it is said that a being of such infinite wisdom and benevolence as that of which the Creator is possessed would not have formed man with such vast capacities and boundless desires, and would have given him no opportunity for exercising them.
In order to establish the validity of this argument it is necessary to prove by the light of Nature that the Creator is benevolent, which, being impracticable, is of itself sufficient to render the argument invalid.
But the argument proceeds upon the supposition that to destroy the soul would be unwise. Now this is arraigning the "All-wise" before the tribunal of his subjects to answer for the mistakes in his government. Can we look into the council of the "Unsearchable" and see what means are made to answer their ends? We do not know but the destruction of the soul may, in the government of God, be made to answer such a purpose that its existence would be contrary to the dictates of wisdom.
The great desire of the soul for immortality, its secret, innate horror of annihilation, has been brought to prove its immortality. But do we always find this horror or this desire? Is it not much more evident that the great majority of mankind have no such dread at all? True that there is a strong feeling of horror excited by the idea of perishing from the earth and being forgotten, of losing all those honors and all that fame awaited them. Many feel this secret horror when they look down upon the vale of futurity and reflect that though now the idols of the world, soon all which will be left them will be the common portion of mankind--oblivion! But this dread does not arise from any idea of their destiny beyond the tomb, and even were this true, it would afford no proof that the mind would exist forever, merely from its strong desires. For it might with as much correctness be argued that the body will exist forever because we have a great dread of dying, and upon this principle nothing which we strongly desire would ever be withheld from us, and no evil that we greatly dread will ever come upon us, a principle evidently false.
Again, it has been said that the constant progression of the powers of the mind affords another proof of its immortality. Concerning this, Addison remarks, "Were a human soul ever thus at a stand in her acquirements, were her faculties to be full blown and incapable of further enlargement, I could imagine that she might fall away insensibly and drop at once into a state of annihilation. But can we believe a thinking being that is in a perpetual progress of improvement, and traveling on from perfection to perfection after having just looked abroad into the works of her Creator and made a few discoveries of his infinite wisdom and goodness, must perish at her first setting out and in the very beginning of her inquiries?"
In answer to this it may be said that the soul is not always progressing in her powers. Is it not rather a subject of general remark that those brilliant talents which in youth expand, in manhood become stationary, and in old age gradually sink to decay? Till when the ancient man descends to the tomb scarce a wreck of that once powerful mind remains.
Who, but upon reading the history of
From the activity of the mind at the hour of death has also been deduced its immortality. But it is not true that the mind is always active at the time of death. We find recorded in history numberless instances of those talents, which were once adequate to the government of a nation, being so weakened and palsied by the touch of sickness as scarcely to tell to beholders what they once were. The talents of the statesman, the wisdom of the sage, the courage and might of the warrior, are instantly destroyed by it, and all that remains of them is the waste of idiocy or the madness of insanity.
Some minds there are who at the time of death retain their faculties though much impaired, and if the argument be valid these are the only cases where immortality is conferred. Again, it is urged that the inequality of rewards and punishments in this world demand another in which virtue may be rewarded and vice punished. This argument, in the first place, takes for its foundation that by the light of nature the distinction between virtue and vice can be discovered. By some this is absolutely disbelieved, and by all considered as extremely doubtful. And, secondly, it puts the Creator under an obligation to reward and punish the actions of his creatures. No such obligation exists, and therefore the argument cannot be valid. And this supposes the Creator to be a being of justice, which cannot by the light of nature be proved, and as the whole argument rests upon this foundation it certainly cannot be correct.
This argument also directly impeaches the wisdom of the Creator, for the sense of it is this,--that, forasmuch as he was not able to manage his government in this world, he must have another in which to rectify the mistakes and oversights of this, and what an idea would this give us of our All-wise Creator?
It is also said that all nations have some conceptions of a future state, that the ancient Greeks and Romans believed in it, that no nation has been found but have possessed some idea of a future state of existence. But their belief arose more from the fact that they wished it to be so than from any real ground of belief; for arguments appear much more plausible when the mind wishes to be convinced. But it is said that every nation, however circumstanced, possess some idea of a future state. For this we may account by the fact that it was handed down by tradition from the time of the flood. From all these arguments, which, however plausible at first sight, are found to be futile, may be argued the necessity of a revelation. Without it, the destiny of the noblest of the works of God would have been left in obscurity. Never till the blessed light of the Gospel dawned on the borders of the pit, and the heralds of the Cross proclaimed "Peace on earth and good will to men," was it that bewildered and misled man was enabled to trace his celestial origin and glorious destiny.
The sun of the Gospel has dispelled the darkness that has rested on objects beyond the tomb. In the Gospel man learned that when the dust returned to dust the spirit fled to the God who gave it. He there found that though man has lost the image of his divine Creator, he is still destined, after this earthly house of his tabernacle is dissolved, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, to a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Soon after the writing of this remarkable composition, Harriet's child-life in Litchfield came to an end, for that same year she went to Hartford to pursue her studies in a school which had been recently established by her sister Catherine in that city.
MISS CATHERINE BEECHER.--PROFESSOR FISHER.--THE WRECK OF THE
The school days in
Catherine was the oldest child of Lyman Beecher and Roxanna
Foote, his wife. In a little battered journal found among her papers is a short
sketch of her life, written when she was seventy-six years of age. In a
tremulous hand she begins: "I was born at
When she was ten years of age her father removed to
In his last letter to Miss Beecher, dated March 31, 1822, he writes:--
"I set out at 10 precisely to-morrow, in the Albion for
Liverpool; the ship has no superior in the whole number of excellent vessels
belonging to this port, and Captain Williams is regarded as first on their list
of commanders. The accommodations are admirable--fare $140. Unless our ship
should speak some one bound to
Before two months had passed came vague rumors of a terrible
shipwreck on the coast of
"You have doubtless heard of the shipwreck of the
Albion packet of
I should not have spoken of this incident of family history with such minuteness, except for the fact that it is so much a part of Mrs. Stowe's life as to make it impossible to understand either her character or her most important works without it. Without this incident "The Minister's Wooing" never would have been written, for both Mrs. Marvyn's terrible soul struggles and old Candace's direct and effective solution of all religious difficulties find their origin in this stranded, storm-beaten ship on the coast of Ireland, and the terrible mental conflicts through which her sister afterward passed, for she believed Professor Fisher eternally lost. No mind more directly and powerfully influenced Harriet's than that of her sister Catherine, unless it was her brother Edward's, and that which acted with such overwhelming power on the strong, unyielding mind of the older sister must have, in time, a permanent and abiding influence on the mind of the younger.
After Professor Fisher's death his books came into Miss Beecher's possession, and among them was a complete edition of Scott's works. It was an epoch in the family history when Doctor Beecher came down-stairs one day with a copy of "Ivanhoe" in his hand, and said: "I have always said that my children should not read novels, but they must read these."
The two years following the death of Professor Fisher were passed
by Miss Catherine Beecher at
"She faced the spectres of the mind And laid them, thus she came at length To find a stronger faith her own."
Gifted naturally with a capacity for close metaphysical analysis and a robust fearlessness in following her premises to a logical conclusion, she arrived at results startling and original, if not always of permanent value.
In 1840 she published in the "Biblical Repository"
an article on Free Agency, which has been acknowledged by competent critics as
the ablest refutation of Edwards on "The Will" which has appeared. An
amusing incident connected with this publication may not be out of place here.
A certain eminent theological professor of
Not finding herself able to love a God whom she thought of in her own language as "a perfectly happy being, unmoved by my sorrows or tears, and looking upon me only with dislike and aversion," she determined "to find happiness in living to do good." "It was right to pray and read the Bible, so I prayed and read. It was right to try to save others, so I labored for their salvation. I never had any fear of punishment or hope of reward all these years." She was tormented with doubts. "What has the Son of God done which the meanest and most selfish creature upon earth would not have done? After making such a wretched race and placing them in such disastrous circumstances, somehow, without any sorrow or trouble, Jesus Christ had a human nature that suffered and died. If something else besides ourselves will do all the suffering, who would not save millions of wretched beings and receive all the honor and gratitude without any of the trouble? Sometimes when such thoughts passed through my mind, I felt that it was all pride, rebellion, and sin."
So she struggles on, sometimes floundering deep in the mire
of doubt, and then lifted for the moment above it by her naturally buoyant
spirits, and general tendency to look on the bright side of things. In this
condition of mind, she came to
"After two or three years I commenced giving instruction in mental philosophy, and at the same time began a regular course of lectures and instructions from the Bible, and was much occupied with plans for governing my school, and in devising means to lead my pupils to become obedient, amiable, and pious. By degrees I finally arrived at the following principles in the government of my school:--
"First. It is indispensable that my scholars should feel that I am sincerely and deeply interested in their best happiness, and the more I can convince them of this, the more ready will be their obedience.
"Second. The preservation of authority and order depends upon the certainty that unpleasant consequences to themselves will inevitably be the result of doing wrong.
"Third. It is equally necessary, to preserve my own influence and their affection, that they should feel that punishment is the natural result of wrong-doing in such a way that they shall regard themselves, instead of me, as the cause of their punishment.
"Fourth. It is indispensable that my scholars should see that my requisitions are reasonable. In the majority of cases this can be shown, and in this way such confidence will be the result that they will trust to my judgment and knowledge, in cases where no explanation can be given.
"Fifth. The more I can make my scholars feel that I am actuated by a spirit of self-denying benevolence, the more confidence they will feel in me, and the more they will be inclined to submit to self-denying duties for the good of others.
"After a while I began to compare my experience with the government of God. I finally got through the whole subject, and drew out the results, and found that all my difficulties were solved and all my darkness dispelled."
Her solution in brief is nothing more than that view of the divine nature which was for so many years preached by her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, and set forth in the writings of her sister Harriet,--the conception of a being of infinite love, patience, and kindness who suffers with man. The sufferings of Christ on the cross were not the sufferings of his human nature merely, but the sufferings of the divine nature in Him. In Christ we see the only revelation of God, and that is the revelation of one that suffers. This is the fundamental idea in "The Minister's Wooing," and it is the idea of God in which the storm-tossed soul of the older sister at last found rest. All this was directly opposed to that fundamental principle of theologians that God, being the infinitely perfect Being, cannot suffer, because suffering indicates imperfection. To Miss Beecher's mind the lack of ability to suffer with his suffering creatures was a more serious imperfection. Let the reader turn to the twenty-fourth chapter of "The Minister's Wooing" for a complete presentation of this subject, especially the passage that begins, "Sorrow is divine: sorrow is reigning on the throne of the universe."
In the fall of the year 1824, while her sister Catherine was passing through the soul crisis which we have been describing, Harriet came to the school that she had recently established.
In a letter to her son written in 1886, speaking of this
period of her life, Mrs. Stowe says: "Somewhere between my twelfth and
thirteenth year I was placed under the care of my elder sister Catherine, in
the school that she had just started in
'When in cold oblivion's shade Beauty, wealth, and power are laid, When, around the sculptured shrine, Moss shall cling and ivy twine, Where immortal spirits reign, There shall we all meet again.'
"As my father's salary was inadequate to the wants of
his large family, the expense of my board in
[Illustration: Catherine E. Beecher]
"The mother of the family gave me at once a child's
place in her heart. A neat little hall chamber was allotted to me for my own,
and a well made and kept single bed was given me, of which I took daily care
with awful satisfaction. If I was sick nothing could exceed the watchful care
and tender nursing of Mrs. Bull. In school my two most intimate friends were
the leading scholars. They had written to me before I came and I had answered
their letters, and on my arrival they gave me the warmest welcome. One was
Catherine Ledyard Cogswell, daughter of the leading and best-beloved of
"Catherine and Georgiana were reading 'Virgil' when I
came to the school. I began the study of Latin alone, and at the end of the
first year made a translation of 'Ovid' in verse, which was read at the final
exhibition of the school, and regarded, I believe, as a very creditable
performance. I was very much interested in poetry, and it was my dream to be a
poet. I began a drama called 'Cleon.' The scene was laid in the court and time
of the emperor Nero, and Cleon was a Greek lord residing at Nero's court, who,
after much searching and doubting, at last comes to the knowledge of
Christianity. I filled blank book after blank book with this drama. It filled
my thoughts sleeping and waking. One day sister Catherine pounced down upon me,
and said that I must not waste my time writing poetry, but discipline my mind
by the study of Butler's 'Analogy.' So after this I wrote out abstracts from
the 'Analogy,' and instructed a class of girls as old as myself, being
compelled to master each chapter just ahead of the class I was teaching. About
this time I read Baxter's 'Saint's Rest.' I do not think any book affected me
more powerfully. As I walked the pavements I used to wish that they might sink
beneath me if only I might find myself in heaven. I was at the same time very
much interested in
"It was about this time that I first believed myself to be a Christian. I was spending my summer vacation at home, in Litchfield. I shall ever remember that dewy, fresh summer morning. I knew that it was a sacramental Sunday, and thought with sadness that when all the good people should take the sacrificial bread and wine I should be left out. I tried hard to feel my sins and count them up; but what with the birds, the daisies, and the brooks that rippled by the way, it was impossible. I came into church quite dissatisfied with myself, and as I looked upon the pure white cloth, the snowy bread and shining cups, of the communion table, thought with a sigh: 'There won't be anything for me to-day; it is all for these grown-up Christians.' Nevertheless, when father began to speak, I was drawn to listen by a certain pathetic earnestness in his voice. Most of father's sermons were as unintelligible to me as if he had spoken in Choctaw. But sometimes he preached what he was accustomed to call a 'frame sermon;' that is, a sermon that sprung out of the deep feeling of the occasion, and which consequently could be neither premeditated nor repeated. His text was taken from the Gospel of John, the declaration of Jesus: 'Behold, I call you no longer servants, but friends.' His theme was Jesus as a soul friend offered to every human being.
"Forgetting all his hair-splitting distinctions and dialectic subtleties, he spoke in direct, simple, and tender language of the great love of Christ and his care for the soul. He pictured Him as patient with our errors, compassionate with our weaknesses, and sympathetic for our sorrows. He went on to say how He was ever near us, enlightening our ignorance, guiding our wanderings, comforting our sorrows with a love unwearied by faults, unchilled by ingratitude, till at last He should present us faultless before the throne of his glory with exceeding joy.
"I sat intent and absorbed. Oh! how much I needed just such a friend, I thought to myself. Then the awful fact came over me that I had never had any conviction of my sins, and consequently could not come to Him. I longed to cry out 'I will,' when father made his passionate appeal, 'Come, then, and trust your soul to this faithful friend.' Like a flash it came over me that if I needed conviction of sin, He was able to give me even this also. I would trust Him for the whole. My whole soul was illumined with joy, and as I left the church to walk home, it seemed to me as if Nature herself were hushing her breath to hear the music of heaven.
"As soon as father came home and was seated in his study, I went up to him and fell in his arms saying, 'Father, I have given myself to Jesus, and He has taken me.' I never shall forget the expression of his face as he looked down into my earnest, childish eyes; it was so sweet, so gentle, and like sunlight breaking out upon a landscape. 'Is it so?' he said, holding me silently to his heart, as I felt the hot tears fall on my head. 'Then has a new flower blossomed in the kingdom this day.'"
If she could have been let alone, and taught "to look
up and not down, forward and not back, out and not in," this religious
experience might have gone on as sweetly and naturally as the opening of a
flower in the gentle rays of the sun. But unfortunately this was not possible
at that time, when self-examination was carried to an extreme that was
calculated to drive a nervous and sensitive mind well-nigh distracted. First,
even her sister Catherine was afraid that there might be something wrong in the
case of a lamb that had come into the fold without being first chased all over
the lot by the shepherd; great stress being laid, in those days, on what was
called "being under conviction." Then also the pastor of the First
Church in Hartford, a bosom friend of Dr. Beecher, looked with melancholy and
suspicious eyes on this unusual and doubtful path to heaven,--but more of this
hereafter. Harriet's conversion took place in the summer of 1825, when she was
fourteen, and the following year, April, 1826, Dr. Beecher resigned his
pastorate in Litchfield to accept a call to the
"You have probably heard that our home in Litchfield is
broken up. Papa has received a call to
"I attend school constantly and am making some progress in my studies. I devote most of my attention to Latin and to arithmetic, and hope soon to prepare myself to assist Catherine in the school."
This breaking up of the Litchfield home led Harriet, under her father's advice, to seek to connect herself with the First Church of Hartford. Accordingly, accompanied by two of her school friends, she went one day to the pastor's study to consult with him concerning the contemplated step. The good man listened attentively to the child's simple and modest statement of Christian experience, and then with an awful, though kindly, solemnity of speech and manner said, "Harriet, do you feel that if the universe should be destroyed (awful pause) you could be happy with God alone?" After struggling in vain, in her mental bewilderment, to fix in her mind some definite conception of the meaning of the sounds which fell on her ear like the measured strokes of a bell, the child of fourteen stammered out, "Yes, sir."
"You realize, I trust," continued the doctor, "in some measure at least, the deceitfulness of your heart, and that in punishment for your sins God might justly leave you to make yourself as miserable as you have made yourself sinful?"
"Yes, sir," again stammered Harriet.
Having thus effectually, and to his own satisfaction, fixed the child's attention on the morbid and over-sensitive workings of her own heart, the good and truly kind-hearted man dismissed her with a fatherly benediction. But where was the joyous ecstasy of that beautiful Sabbath morning of a year ago? Where was that heavenly friend? Yet was not this as it should be, and might not God leave her "to make herself as miserable as she had made herself sinful"?
In a letter addressed to her brother Edward, about this time, she writes: "My whole life is one continued struggle: I do nothing right. I yield to temptation almost as soon as it assails me. My deepest feelings are very evanescent. I am beset behind and before, and my sins take away all my happiness. But that which most constantly besets me is pride--I can trace almost all my sins back to it."
In the mean time, the school is prospering. February 16,
1827, Catherine writes to Dr. Beecher: "My affairs go on well. The stock
is all taken up, and next week I hope to have out the prospectus of the
'Hartford Female Seminary.' I hope the building will be done, and all things in
order, by June. The English lady is coming with twelve pupils from
But let Harriet "take courage in her dark sorrows and melancholies," as Carlyle says: "Samuel Johnson too had hypochondrias; all great souls are apt to have, and to be in thick darkness generally till the eternal ways and the celestial guiding stars disclose themselves, and the vague abyss of life knits itself up into firmaments for them."
At the same time (the winter of 1827), Catherine writes to
Edward concerning Harriet: "If she could come here (
It was evidently necessary that something should be done to restore Harriet to a more tranquil and healthful frame of mind; consequently in the spring of 1827, accompanied by her friend Georgiana May, she went to visit her grandmother Foote at Nut Plains, Guilford. Miss May refers to this visit in a letter to Mrs. Foote, in January of the following winter.
DEAR MRS. FOOTE:--. . . I very often think of you and the happy hours I passed at your house last spring. It seems as if it were but yesterday: now, while I am writing, I can see your pleasant house and the familiar objects around you as distinctly as the day I left them. Harriet and I are very much the same girls we were then. I do not believe we have altered very much, though she is improved in some respects.
The August following this visit to Guilford Harriet writes to her brother Edward in a vein which is still streaked with sadness, but shows some indication of returning health of mind.
"Many of my objections you did remove that afternoon we spent together. After that I was not as unhappy as I had been. I felt, nevertheless, that my views were very indistinct and contradictory, and feared that if you left me thus I might return to the same dark, desolate state in which I had been all summer. I felt that my immortal interest, my happiness for both worlds, was depending on the turn my feelings might take. In my disappointment and distress I called upon God, and it seemed as if I was heard. I felt that He could supply the loss of all earthly love. All misery and darkness were over. I felt as if restored, nevermore to fall. Such sober certainty of waking bliss had long been a stranger to me. But even then I had doubts as to whether these feelings were right, because I felt love to God alone without that ardent love for my fellow-creatures which Christians have often felt. . . . I cannot say exactly what it is makes me reluctant to speak of my feelings. It costs me an effort to express feeling of any kind, but more particularly to speak of my private religious feelings. If any one questions me, my first impulse is to conceal all I can. As for expression of affection towards my brothers and sisters, my companions or friends, the stronger the affection the less inclination have I to express it. Yet sometimes I think myself the most frank, open, and communicative of beings, and at other times the most reserved. If you can resolve all these caprices into general principles, you will do more than I can. Your speaking so much philosophically has a tendency to repress confidence. We never wish to have our feelings analyzed down; and very little, nothing, that we say brought to the test of mathematical demonstration.
"It appears to me that if I only could adopt the views of God you presented to my mind, they would exert a strong and beneficial influence over my character. But I am afraid to accept them for several reasons. First, it seems to be taking from the majesty and dignity of the divine character to suppose that his happiness can be at all affected by the conduct of his sinful, erring creatures. Secondly, it seems to me that such views of God would have an effect on our own minds in lessening that reverence and fear which is one of the greatest motives to us for action. For, although to a generous mind the thought of the love of God would be a sufficient incentive to action, there are times of coldness when that love is not felt, and then there remains no sort of stimulus. I find as I adopt these sentiments I feel less fear of God, and, in view of sin, I feel only a sensation of grief which is more easily dispelled and forgotten than that I formerly felt."
A letter dated January 3, 1828, shows us that Harriet had returned to Hartford and was preparing herself to teach drawing and painting, under the direction of her sister Catherine.
MY DEAR GRANDMOTHER,--I should have written before to assure you of my remembrance of you, but I have been constantly employed, from nine in the morning till after dark at night, in taking lessons of a painting and drawing master, with only an intermission long enough to swallow a little dinner which was sent to me in the school-room. You may easily believe that after spending the day in this manner, I did not feel in a very epistolary humor in the evening, and if I had been, I could not have written, for when I did not go immediately to bed I was obliged to get a long French lesson.
The seminary is finished, and the school going on nicely. Miss Clarissa Brown is assisting Catherine in the school. Besides her, Catherine, and myself, there are two other teachers who both board in the family with us: one is Miss Degan, an Italian lady who teaches French and Italian; she rooms with me, and is very interesting and agreeable. Miss Hawks is rooming with Catherine. In some respects she reminds me very much of my mother. She is gentle, affectionate, modest, and retiring, and much beloved by all the scholars. . . . I am still going on with my French, and carrying two young ladies through Virgil, and if I have time, shall commence Italian.
I am very comfortable and happy.
I propose, my dear grandmamma, to send you by the first opportunity a dish of fruit of my own painting. Pray do not now devour it in anticipation, for I cannot promise that you will not find it sadly tasteless in reality. If so, please excuse it, for the sake of the poor young artist. I admire to cultivate a taste for painting, and I wish to improve it; it was what my dear mother admired and loved, and I cherish it for her sake. I have thought more of this dearest of all earthly friends these late years, since I have been old enough to know her character and appreciate her worth. I sometimes think that, had she lived, I might have been both better and happier than I now am, but God is good and wise in all his ways.
A letter written to her brother Edward in
"I think that those views of God which you have presented to me have had an influence in restoring my mind to its natural tone. But still, after all, God is a being afar off. He is so far above us that anything but the most distant reverential affection seems almost sacrilegious. It is that affection that can lead us to be familiar that the heart needs. But easy and familiar expressions of attachment and that sort of confidential communication which I should address to papa or you would be improper for a subject to address to a king, much less for us to address to the King of kings. The language of prayer is of necessity stately and formal, and we cannot clothe all the little minutiae of our wants and troubles in it. I wish I could describe to you how I feel when I pray. I feel that I love God,--that is, that I love Christ,--that I find comfort and happiness in it, and yet it is not that kind of comfort which would arise from free communication of my wants and sorrows to a friend. I sometimes wish that the Saviour were visibly present in this world, that I might go to Him for a solution of some of my difficulties. . . . Do you think, my dear brother, that there is such a thing as so realizing the presence and character of God that He can supply the place of earthly friends? I really wish to know what you think of this. . . . Do you suppose that God really loves sinners before they come to Him? Some say that we ought to tell them that God hates them, that He looks on them with utter abhorrence, and that they must love Him before He will look on them otherwise. Is it right to say to those who are in deep distress,' God is interested in you; He feels for and loves you'?"
Appended to this letter is a short note from Miss Catherine Beecher, who evidently read the letter over and answered Harriet's questions herself. She writes: "When the young man came to Jesus, is it not said that Jesus loved him, though he was unrenewed?"
In April, 1828, Harriet again writes to her brother Edward:---
"I have had more reason to be grateful to that friend than ever before. He has not left me in all my weakness. It seems to me that my love to Him is the love of despair. All my communion with Him, though sorrowful, is soothing. I am painfully sensible of ignorance and deficiency, but still I feel that I am willing that He should know all. He will look on all that is wrong only to purify and reform. He will never be irritated or impatient. He will never show me my faults in such a manner as to irritate without helping me. A friend to whom I would acknowledge all my faults must be perfect. Let any one once be provoked, once speak harshly to me, once sweep all the chords of my soul out of tune, I never could confide there again. It is only to the most perfect Being in the universe that imperfection can look and hope for patience. How strange! . . . You do not know how harsh and forbidding everything seems, compared with his character. All through the day in my intercourse with others, everything has a tendency to destroy the calmness of mind gained by communion with Him. One flatters me, another is angry with me, another is unjust to me.
"You speak of your predilections for literature having been a snare to you. I have found it so myself. I can scarcely think, without tears and indignation, that all that is beautiful and lovely and poetical has been laid on other altars. Oh! will there never be a poet with a heart enlarged and purified by the Holy Spirit, who shall throw all the graces of harmony, all the enchantments of feeling, pathos, and poetry, around sentiments worthy of them? . . . It matters little what service He has for me. . . . I do not mean to live in vain. He has given me talents, and I will lay them at his feet, well satisfied, if He will accept them. All my powers He can enlarge. He made my mind, and He can teach me to cultivate and exert its faculties."
The following November she writes from
"I am in such an uncertain, unsettled state, traveling
back and forth, that I have very little time to write. In the first place, on
my arrival in
"I found the folks all well on my coming to Boston, and as to my new brother, James, he has nothing to distinguish him from forty other babies, except a very large pair of blue eyes and an uncommonly fair complexion, a thing which is of no sort of use or advantage to a man or boy.
"I am thinking very seriously of remaining in
Evidently papa and Catherine did not approve of the
"My situation this winter (1829) is in many respects pleasant. I room with three other teachers, Miss Fisher, Miss Mary Dutton, and Miss Brigham. Ann Fisher you know. Miss Dutton is about twenty, has a fine mathematical mind, and has gone as far into that science perhaps as most students at college. She is also, as I am told, quite learned in the languages. . . . Miss Brigham is somewhat older: is possessed of a fine mind and most unconquerable energy and perseverance of character. From early childhood she has been determined to obtain an education, and to attain to a certain standard. Where persons are determined to be anything, they will be. I think, for this reason, she will make a first-rate character. Such are my companions. We spend our time in school during the day, and in studying in the evening. My plan of study is to read rhetoric and prepare exercises for my class the first half hour in the evening; after that the rest of the evening is divided between French and Italian. Thus you see the plan of my employment and the character of my immediate companions. Besides these, there are others among the teachers and scholars who must exert an influence over my character. Miss Degan, whose constant occupation it is to make others laugh; Mrs. Gamage, her room-mate, a steady, devoted, sincere Christian. . . . Little things have great power over me, and if I meet with the least thing that crosses my feelings, I am often rendered unhappy for days and weeks. . . . I wish I could bring myself to feel perfectly indifferent to the opinions of others. I believe that there never was a person more dependent on the good and evil opinions of those around than I am. This desire to be loved forms, I fear, the great motive for all my actions. . . . I have been reading carefully the book of Job, and I do not think that it contains the views of God which you presented to me. God seems to have stripped a dependent creature of all that renders life desirable, and then to have answered his complaints from the whirlwind; and instead of showing mercy and pity, to have overwhelmed him by a display of his power and justice. . . . With the view I received from you, I should have expected that a being who sympathizes with his guilty, afflicted creatures would not have spoken thus. Yet, after all, I do believe that God is such a being as you represent Him to be, and in the New Testament I find in the character of Jesus Christ a revelation of God as merciful and compassionate; in fact, just such a God as I need.
"Somehow or another you have such a reasonable sort of way of saying things that when I come to reflect I almost always go over to your side. . . . My mind is often perplexed, and such thoughts arise in it that I cannot pray, and I become bewildered. The wonder to me is, how all ministers and all Christians can feel themselves so inexcusably sinful, when it seems to me we all come into the world in such a way that it would be miraculous if we did not sin. Mr. Hawes always says in prayer, 'We have nothing to offer in extenuation of any of our sins,' and I always think when he says it, that we have everything to offer in extenuation. The case seems to me exactly as if I had been brought into the world with such a thirst for ardent spirits that there was just a possibility, though no hope, that I should resist, and then my eternal happiness made dependent on my being temperate. Sometimes when I try to confess my sins, I feel that after all I am more to be pitied than blamed, for I have never known the time when I have not had a temptation within me so strong that it was certain I should not overcome it. This thought shocks me, but it comes with such force, and so appealingly, to all my consciousness, that it stifles all sense of sin. . . .
"Sometimes when I read the Bible, it seems to be wholly grounded on the idea that the sin of man is astonishing, inexcusable, and without palliation or cause, and the atonement is spoken of as such a wonderful and undeserved mercy that I am filled with amazement. Yet if I give up the Bible I gain nothing, for the providence of God in nature is just as full of mystery, and of the two I think that the Bible, with all its difficulties, is preferable to being without it; for the Bible holds out the hope that in a future world all shall be made plain. . . . So you see I am, as Mr. Hawes says, 'on the waves,' and all I can do is to take the word of God that He does do right and there I rest."
The following summer, in July, she writes to Edward: "I have never been so happy as this summer. I began it in more suffering than I ever before have felt, but there is One whom I daily thank for all that suffering, since I hope that it has brought me at last to rest entirely in Him. I do hope that my long, long course of wandering and darkness and unhappiness is over, and that I have found in Him who died for me all, and more than all, I could desire. Oh, Edward, you can feel as I do; you can speak of Him! There are few, very few, who can. Christians in general do not seem to look to Him as their best friend, or realize anything of his unutterable love. They speak with a cold, vague, reverential awe, but do not speak as if in the habit of close and near communion; as if they confided to Him every joy and sorrow and constantly looked to Him for direction and guidance. I cannot express to you, my brother, I cannot tell you, how that Saviour appears to me. To bear with one so imperfect, so weak, so inconsistent, as myself, implied long suffering and patience more than words can express. I love most to look on Christ as my teacher, as one who, knowing the utmost of my sinfulness, my waywardness, my folly, can still have patience; can reform, purify, and daily make me more like himself."
So, after four years of struggling and suffering, she returns to the place where she started from as a child of thirteen. It has been like watching a ship with straining masts and storm-beaten sails, buffeted by the waves, making for the harbor, and coming at last to quiet anchorage. There have been, of course, times of darkness and depression, but never any permanent loss of the religious trustfulness and peace of mind indicated by this letter.
The next three years were passed partly in
My Dear Brother:---The looking over
of father's letters in the period of his
In the summer of 1832 she writes to Miss May, revealing her spiritual and intellectual life in a degree unusual, even for her.
"After the disquisition on myself above cited, you will be prepared to understand the changes through which this wonderful _ego et me ipse_ has passed.
"The amount of the matter has been, as this inner world of mine has become worn out and untenable, I have at last concluded to come out of it and live in the external one, and, as F------ S------ once advised me, to give up the pernicious habit of meditation to the first Methodist minister that would take it, and try to mix in society somewhat as another person would.
"'_Horas non numero nisi serenas.'_
Uncle Samuel, who sits by me, has just been reading the above motto, the
inscription on a sun-dial in
"I am trying to cultivate a general spirit of kindliness towards everybody. Instead of shrinking into a corner to notice how other people behave, I am holding out my hand to the right and to the left, and forming casual or incidental acquaintances with all who will be acquainted with me. In this way I find society full of interest and pleasure--a pleasure which pleaseth me more because it is not old and worn out. From these friendships I expect little; therefore generally receive more than I expect. From past friendships I have expected everything, and must of necessity have been disappointed. The kind words and looks and smiles I call forth by looking and smiling are not much by themselves, but they form a very pretty flower border to the way of life. They embellish the day or the hour as it passes, and when they fade they only do just as you expected they would. This kind of pleasure in acquaintanceship is new to me. I never tried it before. When I used to meet persons, the first inquiry was, 'Have they such and such a character, or have they anything that might possibly be of use or harm to me?'"
It is striking, the degree of interest a letter had for her.
"Your long letter came this morning. It revived much in my heart. Just think how glad I must have been this morning to hear from you. I was glad. . . . I thought of it through all the vexations of school this morning. . . . I have a letter at home; and when I came home from school, I went leisurely over it.
"This evening I have spent in a little social party,--a dozen or so,--and I have been zealously talking all the evening. When I came to my cold, lonely room, there was your letter lying on the dressing-table. It touched me with a sort of painful pleasure, for it seems to me uncertain, improbable, that I shall ever return and find you as I have found your letter. Oh, my dear G-----, it is scarcely well to love friends thus. The greater part that I see cannot move me deeply. They are present, and I enjoy them; they pass and I forget them. But those that I love differently; those that I LOVE; and oh, how much that word means! I feel sadly about them. They may change; they must die; they are separated from me, and I ask myself why should I wish to love with all the pains and penalties of such conditions? I check myself when expressing feelings like this, so much has been said of it by the sentimental, who talk what they could not have felt. But it is so deeply, sincerely so in me, that sometimes it will overflow. Well, there is a heaven,--a heaven,--a world of love, and love after all is the life-blood, the existence, the all in all of mind."
This is the key to her whole life. She was impelled by love, and did what she did, and wrote what she did, under the impulse of love. Never could "Uncle Tom's Cabin" or "The Minister's Wooing" have been written, unless by one to whom love was the "life-blood of existence, the all in all of mind." Years afterwards Mrs. Browning was to express this same thought in the language of poetry.
"But when a soul by choice and conscience doth
Throw out her full force on another soul,
The conscience and the concentration both
Make mere life love. For life in perfect whole
And aim consummated is love in sooth,
As nature's magnet heat rounds pole with pole."
DR. BEECHER CALLED TO CINCINNATI.--THE
IN 1832, after having been settled for six years over the
Before making his final decision, Dr. Beecher, accompanied by his daughter Catherine, visited Cincinnati to take a general survey of their proposed battlefield, and their impressions of the city are given in the following letter written by the latter to Harriet in Boston:--
"Here we are at last at our journey's end, alive and
well. We are staying with Uncle Samuel (Foote), whose establishment I will try
and sketch for you. It is on a height in the upper part of the city, and
commands a fine view of the whole of the lower town. The city does not impress
me as being so very new. It is true everything looks neat and clean, but it is
compact, and many of the houses are of brick and very handsomely built. The
streets run at right angles to each other, and are wide and well paved. We
reached here in three days from
"I have become somewhat acquainted with those ladies we
shall have the most to do with, and find them intelligent,
"I know of no place in the world where there is so fair a prospect of finding everything that makes social and domestic life pleasant. Uncle John and Uncle Samuel are just the intelligent, sociable, free, and hospitable sort of folk that everybody likes and everybody feels at home with.
"The folks are very anxious to have a school on our plan set on foot here. We can have fine rooms in the city college building, which is now unoccupied, and everybody is ready to lend a helping hand. As to father, I never saw such a field of usefulness and influence as is offered to him here."
This, then, was the field of labor in which the next
eighteen years of the life of Mrs. Stowe were to be passed. At this time her
sister Mary was married and living in
Mr. Beecher's preliminary journey to
"Well, my dear, the great sheet is out and the letter
is begun. All our family are here (in
"Father is to perform to-night in the Chatham Theatre! 'positively for the _last_ time this season!' I don't
know, I'm sure, as we shall ever get to
'In the lowest depths, _another_ deep!'
Father is in high spirits. He is all in his own element,--dipping into books; consulting authorities for his oration; going round here, there, everywhere; begging, borrowing, and spoiling the Egyptians; delighted with past success and confident for the future.
[Illustration: The home at Walnut Hills,
"Well, we did get away from
From Downington she writes:--
"Here we all are,--Noah and his wife and his sons and his daughters, with the cattle and creeping things, all dropped down in the front parlor of this tavern, about thirty miles from Philadelphia. If to-day is a fair specimen of our journey, it will be a very pleasant, obliging driver, good roads, good spirits, good dinner, fine scenery, and now and then some 'psalms and hymns and spiritual songs;' for with George on board you may be sure of music of some kind. Moreover, George has provided himself with a quantity of tracts, and he and the children have kept up a regular discharge at all the wayfaring people we encountered. I tell him he is _peppering_ the land with moral influence.
"We are all well; all in good spirits. Just let me give
you a peep into our traveling household. Behold us, then, in the front parlor
of this country inn, all as much at home as if we were in
"This afternoon, as we were traveling, we struck up and
sang 'Jubilee.' It put me in mind of the time when we used to ride along the
"Well, my dear, there is a land where we shall not _love_ and _leave._ Those skies shall never cease to shine, the waters of life we shall _never_ be called upon to leave. We have here no continuing city, but we seek one to come. In such thoughts as these I desire ever to rest, and with such words as these let us 'comfort one another and edify one another.'
On the same journey George Beecher writes:--
"We had poor horses in crossing the mountains. Our
average rate for the last four days to
Although the new-comers were cordially welcomed in
My dear Sister (Mary),--The Hartford letter from all and
sundry has just arrived, and after cutting all manner of capers expressive of
thankfulness, I have skipped three stairs at a time up to the study to begin an
answer. My notions of answering letters are according to the literal sense of
the word; not waiting six months and then scrawling a lazy reply, but sitting
down the moment you have read a letter, and telling, as Dr. Woods says,
"How the subject strikes you." I wish I could be clear that the path
of duty lay in talking to you this afternoon, but as I find a loud call to
consider the heels of George's stockings, I must only write a word or two, and
then resume my darning-needle. You don't know how anxiously we all have watched
for some intelligence from
The fact of our having received said letter is as yet a state secret, not to be made known till all our family circle "in full assembly meet" at the tea-table. Then what an illumination! "How we shall be edified and fructified," as that old Methodist said. It seems too bad to keep it from mother and Aunt Esther a whole afternoon, but then I have the comfort of thinking that we are consulting for their greatest happiness "on the whole," which is metaphysical benevolence.
So kind Mrs. Parsons stopped in the very midst of her
pumpkin pies to think of us? Seems to me I can see her bright, cheerful face
now! And then those well known handwritings! We _do_
Evening. Having finished the last hole on George's black vest, I stick in my needle and sit
down to be sociable. You don't know how coming away from
After tea. Well, we have had a fine
time. When supper was about half over, Catherine began: "We have a dessert
that we have been saving all the afternoon," and then I held up my letter.
"See here, this is from
Our family physician is one Dr. Drake, a man of a good deal of science, theory, and reputed skill, but a sort of general mark for the opposition of all the medical cloth of the city. He is a tall, rectangular, perpendicular sort of a body, as stiff as a poker, and enunciates his prescriptions very much as though he were delivering a discourse on the doctrine of election. The other evening he was detained from visiting Kate, and he sent a very polite, ceremonious note containing a prescription, with Dr. D.'s compliments to Miss Beecher, requesting that she would take the inclosed in a little molasses at nine o'clock precisely.
The house we are at present inhabiting is the most inconvenient, ill-arranged, good-for-nothing, and altogether to be execrated affair that ever was put together. It was evidently built without a thought of a winter season. The kitchen is so disposed that it cannot be reached from any part of the house without going out into the air. Mother is actually obliged to put on a bonnet and cloak every time she goes into it. In the house are two parlors with folding doors between them. The back parlor has but one window, which opens on a veranda and has its lower half painted to keep out what little light there is. I need scarcely add that our landlord is an old bachelor and of course acted up to the light he had, though he left little enough of it for his tenants.
During this early
"Bishop Purcell visited our school to-day and expressed
himself as greatly pleased that we had opened such an
one here. He spoke of my poor little geography, [Footnote: This geography was
begun by Mrs. Stowe during the summer of 1832, while visiting her brother
"How I wish you could see Walnut Hills. It is about two miles from the city, and the road to it is as picturesque as you can imagine a road to be without 'springs that run among the hills.' Every possible variety of hill and vale of beautiful slope, and undulations of land set off by velvet richness of turf and broken up by groves and forests of every outline of foliage, make the scene Arcadian. You might ride over the same road a dozen times a day untired, for the constant variation of view caused by ascending and descending hills relieves you from all tedium. Much of the wooding is beech of a noble growth. The straight, beautiful shafts of these trees as one looks up the cool green recesses of the woods seems as though they might form very proper columns for a Dryad temple. _There_! Catherine is growling at _me_ for sitting up so late; so 'adieu to music, moonlight, and you.' I meant to tell you an abundance of classical things that I have been thinking to-night, but 'woe's me.'
"Since writing the above my whole time has been taken up in the labor of our new school, or wasted in the fatigue and lassitude following such labor. To-day is Sunday, and I am staying at home because I think it is time to take some efficient means to dissipate the illness and bad feelings of divers kinds that have for some time been growing upon me. At present there is and can be very little system or regularity about me. About half of my time I am scarcely alive, and a great part of the rest the slave and sport of morbid feeling and unreasonable prejudice. I have everything but good health.
"I still rejoice that this letter will find you in good
Again she writes to the same friend: "Your letter, my dear G., I have just received, and read through three times. Now for my meditations upon it. What a woman of the world you are grown. How good it would be for me to be put into a place which so breaks up and precludes thought. Thought, intense emotional thought, has been my disease. How much good it might do me to be where I could not but be thoughtless. . . .
"Now, Georgiana, let me copy for your delectation a list of matters that I have jotted down for consideration at a teachers' meeting to be held to-morrow night. It runneth as follows. Just hear! 'About quills and paper on the floor; forming classes; drinking in the entry (cold water, mind you); giving leave to speak; recess-bell, etc., etc.' 'You are tired, I see,' says Gilpin, 'so am I,' and I spare you.
"I have just been hearing a class of little girls recite, and telling them a fairy story which I had to spin out as it went along, beginning with 'once upon a time there was,' etc., in the good old-fashioned way of stories.
"Recently I have been reading the life of Madame de
Stael and 'Corinne.' I have felt an intense sympathy with many parts of that
book, with many parts of her character. But in
During the winter of 1833-34 the young school-teacher became so distressed at her own mental listlessness that she made a vigorous effort to throw it off. She forced herself to mingle in society, and, stimulated by the offer of a prize of fifty dollars by Mr. James Hall, editor of the "Western Monthly," a newly established magazine, for the best short story, she entered into the competition. Her story, which was entitled "Uncle Lot," afterwards republished in the "May-flower," was by far the best submitted, and was awarded the prize without hesitation. This success gave a new direction to her thoughts, gave her an insight into her own ability, and so encouraged her that from that time on she devoted most of her leisure moments to writing.
Her literary efforts were further stimulated at this time by
the congenial society of the Semi-Colon Club, a little social circle that met
on alternate weeks at Mr. Samuel Foote's and Dr. Drake's. The name of the club
originated with a roundabout and rather weak bit of logic set forth by one of
its promoters. He said: "You know that in Spanish Columbus is called '
At some meetings compositions were read, and at others nothing was read, but the time was passed in a general discussion of some interesting topic previously announced. Among the members of the club were Professor Stowe, unsurpassed in Biblical learning; Judge James Hall, editor of the "Western Monthly;" General Edward King; Mrs. Peters, afterwards founder of the Philadelphia School of Design; Miss Catherine Beecher; Mrs. Caroline Lee Hentz; E. P. Cranch; Dr. Drake; S. P. Chase, and many others who afterwards became prominent in their several walks of life.
In one of her letters to Miss May, Mrs. Stowe describes one of her methods for entertaining the members of the Semi-Colon as follows:--
"I am wondering as to what I shall do next. I have been writing a piece to be read next Monday evening at Uncle Sam's soiree (the Semi-Colon). It is a letter purporting to be from Dr. Johnson. I have been stilting about in his style so long that it is a relief to me to come down to the jog of common english. Now I think of it I will just give you a history of my campaign in this circle.
"My first piece was a letter from Bishop Butler, written in his outrageous style of parentheses and foggification. My second a satirical essay on the modern uses of languages. This I shall send to you, as some of the gentlemen, it seems, took a fancy to it and requested leave to put it in the 'Western Magazine,' and so it is in print. It is ascribed to _Catherine_, or I don't know that I should have let it go. I have no notion of appearing in _propria personce_.
"The next piece was a satire on certain members who were getting very much into the way of joking on the worn-out subjects of matrimony and old maid and old bachelorism. I therefore wrote a set of legislative enactments purporting to be from the ladies of the society, forbidding all such allusions in future. It made some sport at the time. I try not to be personal, and to be courteous, even in satire.
"But I have written a piece this week that is making me some disquiet. I did not like it that there was so little that was serious and rational about the reading. So I conceived the design of writing a _set of letters_, and throwing them in, as being the letters of a friend. I wrote a letter this week for the first of the set,--easy, not very sprightly,--describing an imaginary situation, a house in the country, a gentleman and lady, Mr. and Mrs. Howard, as being pious, literary, and agreeable. I threw into the letter a number of little particulars and incidental allusions to give it the air of having been really a letter. I meant thus to give myself an opportunity for the introduction of different subjects and the discussion of different characters in future letters.
"I meant to write on a great number of subjects in future. Cousin Elisabeth, only, was in the secret; Uncle Samuel and Sarah Elliot were not to know.
"Yesterday morning I finished my letter, smoked it to make it look yellow, tore it to make it look old, directed it and scratched out the direction, postmarked it with red ink, sealed it and broke the seal, all this to give credibility to the fact of its being a real letter. Then I inclosed it in an envelope, stating that it was a part of a _set_ which had incidentally fallen into my hands. This envelope was written in a scrawny, scrawly, gentleman's hand.
"I put it into the office in the morning, directed to 'Mrs. Samuel E. Foote,' and then sent word to Sis that it was coming, so that she might be ready to enact the part.
"Well, the deception took. Uncle Sam examined it and pronounced, _ex cathedra_, that it must have been a real letter. Mr. Greene (the gentleman who reads) declared that it must have come from Mrs. Hall, and elucidated the theory by spelling out the names and dates which I had erased, which, of course, he accommodated to his own tastes. But then, what makes me feel uneasy is that Elisabeth, after reading it, did not seem to be exactly satisfied. She thought it had too much sentiment, too much particularity of incident,--she did not exactly know what. She was afraid that it would be criticised unmercifully. Now Elisabeth has a tact and quickness of perception that I trust to, and her remarks have made me uneasy enough. I am unused to being criticised, and don't know how I shall bear it."
In 1833 Mrs. Stowe first had the subject of slavery brought
to her personal notice by taking a trip across the river from
At this time, however, Mrs. Stowe was more deeply interested in the subject of education than in that of slavery, as is shown by the following extract from one of her letters to Miss May, who was herself a teacher. She says:--
"We mean to turn over the West by means of _model schools_ in this, its capital. We mean to have a young lady's school of about fifty or sixty, a primary school of little girls to the same amount, and then a primary school for _boys_. We have come to the conclusion that the work of teaching will never be rightly done till it passes into _female_ hands. This is especially true with regard to boys. To govern boys by moral influences requires tact and talent and versatility; it requires also the same division of labor that female education does. But men of tact, versatility, talent, and piety will not devote their lives to teaching. They must be ministers and missionaries, and all that, and while there is such a thrilling call for action in this way, every man who is merely teaching feels as if he were a Hercules with a distaff, ready to spring to the first trumpet that calls him away. As for division of labor, men must have salaries that can support wife and family, and, of course, a revenue would be required to support a requisite number of teachers if they could be found.
"Then, if men have more knowledge they have less talent at communicating it, nor have they the patience, the long-suffering, and gentleness necessary to superintend the formation of character. We intend to make these principles understood, and ourselves to set the example of what females can do in this way. You see that first-rate talent is necessary for all that we mean to do, especially for the last, because here we must face down the prejudices of society and we must have exemplary success to be believed. We want original, planning minds, and you do not know how few there are among females, and how few we can command of those that exist."
During the summer of 1834 the young teacher and writer made
her first visit East since leaving
"Then there was a portly, rosy, clever Mr. Smith, or
Jones, or something the like; and a New Orleans girl looking like distraction,
as far as dress is concerned, but with the prettiest language and softest
intonations in the world, and one of those faces which, while you say it isn't
handsome, keeps you looking all the time to see what it can be that is so
pretty about it. Then there was Miss B., an independent, good-natured,
do-as-I-please sort of a body, who seemed of perpetual motion from morning till
night. Poor Miss D. said, when we stopped at night, 'Oh, dear! I suppose
In the same letter she gives her impressions of
"I have seen it (
While at the East she was greatly affected by hearing of the
death of her dear friend, Eliza Tyler, the wife of Professor Stowe. This lady
was the daughter of Dr. Bennett Tyler, president of the Theological Institute
of Connecticut, at
Her death left Professor Stowe a childless widower, and his forlorn condition greatly excited the sympathy of her who had been his wife's most intimate friend. It was easy for sympathy to ripen into love, and after a short engagement Harriet E. Beecher became the wife of Professor Calvin E. Stowe.
Her last act before the wedding was to write the following note to the friend of her girlhood, Miss Georgiana May:--
_January_ 6, 1836.
Well, my dear G., about half an hour more and your old friend, companion, schoolmate, sister, etc., will cease to be Hatty Beecher and change to nobody knows who. My dear, you are engaged, and pledged in a year or two to encounter a similar fate, and do you wish to know how you shall feel? Well, my dear, I have been dreading and dreading the time, and lying awake all last week wondering how I should live through this overwhelming crisis, and lo! it has come and I feel _nothing at all_.
The wedding is to be altogether domestic; nobody present but my own brothers and sisters, and my old colleague, Mary Dutton; and as there is a sufficiency of the ministry in our family we have not even to call in the foreign aid of a minister. Sister Katy is not here, so she will not witness my departure from her care and guidance to that of another. None of my numerous friends and acquaintances who have taken such a deep interest in making the connection for me even know the day, and it will be all done and over before they know anything about it.
Well, it is really a mercy to have this entire stupidity come over one at such a time. I should be crazy to feel as I did yesterday, or indeed to feel anything at all. But I inwardly vowed that my last feelings and reflections on this subject should be yours, and as I have not got any, it is just as well to tell you _that_. Well, here comes Mr. S., so farewell, and for the last time I subscribe,
Your own H. E. B.
PROFESSOR STOWE'S INTEREST IN POPULAR EDUCATION.--HIS
DEPARTURE FOR EUROPE.--SLAVERY RIOTS IN CINCINNATI.--BIRTH OF TWIN
DAUGHTERS.--PROFESSOR STOWE'S RETURN AND VISIT TO COLUMBUS.--DOMESTIC
TRIALS.--AIDING A FUGITIVE SLAVE.--AUTHORSHIP UNDER DIFFICULTIES.--A
The letter to her friend Georgiana May, begun half an hour before her wedding, was not completed until nearly two months after that event. Taking it from her portfolio, she adds:--
"Three weeks have passed since writing the above, and my husband and self are now quietly seated by our
own fireside, as domestic as any pair of tame fowl you ever saw; he writing to
his mother, and I to you. Two days after our marriage we took a wedding
excursion, so called, though we would most gladly have been excused this
conformity to ordinary custom had not necessity required Mr. Stowe to visit
Columbus, and I had too much adhesiveness not to go too.
"And now, my dear, perhaps the wonder to you, as to me, is how this momentous crisis in the life of such a wisp of nerve as myself has been transacted so quietly. My dear, it is a wonder to myself. I am tranquil, quiet, and happy. I look _only_ on the present, and leave the future with Him who has hitherto been so kind to me. 'Take no thought for the morrow' is my motto, and my comfort is to rest on Him in whose house there are many mansions provided when these fleeting earthly ones pass away.
"Dear Georgy, naughty girl that I am, it is a month
that I have let the above lie by, because I got into a strain of emotion in it
that I dreaded to return to. Well, so it shall be no longer. In about five
weeks Mr. Stowe and myself start for
This reference to her husband as about to leave her relates
to his sailing for Europe to purchase books for Lane Seminary, and also as a
commissioner appointed by the State of Ohio to investigate the public school
systems of the old world. He had long been convinced that higher education was
impossible in the West without a higher grade of public schools, and had in
1833 been one of the founders in
He sailed from New York for London in the ship Montreal, Captain Champlin, on June 8, 1836, and carried with him, to be opened only after he was at sea, a letter from his wife, from which the following extract is made:--
"Now, my dear, that you are gone where you are out of the reach of my care, advice, and good management, it is fitting that you should have something under my hand and seal for your comfort and furtherance in the new world you are going to. Firstly, I must caution you to set your face as a flint against the 'cultivation of indigo,' as Elisabeth calls it, in any way or shape. Keep yourself from it most scrupulously, and though you are unprovided with that precious and savory treatise entitled 'Kemper's Consolations,' [Footnote: A ridiculous book from which Mr. Stowe derived endless amusement.] yet you can exercise yourself to recall and set in order such parts thereof as would more particularly suit your case, particularly those portions wherewith you so much consoled Kate, Aunt Esther, and your unworthy handmaid, while you yet tarried at Walnut Hills. But seriously, dear one, you must give more way to hope than to memory. You are going to a new scene now, and one that I hope will be full of enjoyment to you. I want you to take the good of it.
"Only think of all you expect to see: the great libraries and beautiful paintings, fine churches, and, above all, think of seeing Tholuck, your great Apollo. My dear, I wish I were a man in your place; if I wouldn't have a grand time!"
During her husband's absence abroad Mrs. Stowe lived quietly
At this time the question of slavery was an exciting one in
"Yesterday evening I spent scribbling for Henry's newspaper (the 'Journal') in this wise: 'Birney's printing-press has been mobbed, and many of the respectable citizens are disposed to wink at the outrage in consideration of its moving in the line of their prejudices.'
"I wrote a conversational sketch, in which I rather satirized this inconsistent spirit, and brought out the effects of patronizing _any_ violation of private rights. It was in a light, sketchy style, designed to draw attention to a long editorial of Henry's in which he considers the subject fully and seriously. His piece is, I think, a powerful one; indeed, he does write very strongly. I am quite proud of his editorials; they are well studied, earnest, and dignified. I think he will make a first-rate writer. Both our pieces have gone to press to-day, with Charles's article on music, and we have had not a little diversion about our _family newspaper_.
"I thought, when I was writing last night, that I was, like a good wife, defending one of your principles in your absence, and wanted you to see how manfully I talked about it. Henry has also taken up and examined the question of the Seminole Indians, and done it very nobly."
"The excitement about Birney continues to increase. The
keeper of the
"He was one of the number they invited, but he told those who came to him that he would have nothing to do with disorderly public meetings or mobs in any shape, and that he was entirely opposed to the whole thing.
"I presume they will have a hot meeting, if they have any at all.
"I wish father were at home to preach a sermon to his church, for many of its members do not frown on these things as they ought."
"Later: The meeting was held, and was headed by Morgan,
Neville, Judge Burke, and I know not who else. Judge Burnet was present and
consented to their acts. The mob madness is certainly upon this city when men
of sense and standing will pass resolutions approving in so many words of
things done contrary to law, as one of the resolutions of this meeting did. It
quoted the demolition of the tea in
"A large body, perhaps the majority of citizens, disapprove, but I fear there will not be public disavowal. Even N. Wright but faintly opposes, and Dr. Fore has been exceedingly violent. Mr. Hammond (editor of the 'Gazette') in a very dignified and judicious manner has condemned the whole thing, and Henry has opposed, but otherwise the papers have either been silent or in favor of mobs. We shall see what the result will be in a few days.
"For my part, I can easily see how such proceedings may make converts to abolitionism, for already my sympathies are strongly enlisted for Mr. Birney, and I hope that he will stand his ground and assert his rights. The office is fire-proof, and inclosed by high walls. I wish he would man it with armed men and see what can be done. If I were a man I would go, for one, and take good care of at least one window. Henry sits opposite me writing a most valiant editorial, and tells me to tell you he is waxing mighty in battle."
In another letter she writes:--
"I told you in my last that the mob broke into Birney's
press, where, however, the mischief done was but slight. The object appeared to
be principally to terrify. Immediately there followed a general excitement in
which even good men in their panic and prejudice about abolitionism forgot that
mobs were worse evils than these, talked against Birney, and winked at the
outrage; N. Wright and Judge Burnet, for example. Meanwhile the turbulent
spirits went beyond this and talked of revolution and of righting things
without law that could not be righted by it. At the head of these were Morgan,
Neville, Longworth, Joseph Graham, and Judge Burke. A meeting was convoked at
"There were four classes in the city then: Those who meant to go as revolutionists and support the mob; those who meant to put down Birney, but rather hoped to do it without a mob; those who felt ashamed to go, foreseeing the probable consequence, and yet did not decidedly frown upon it; and those who sternly and decidedly reprehended it.
"The first class was headed by Neville, Longworth,
Graham, etc.; the second class, though of some numbers, was less conspicuous;
of the third, Judge Burnet, Dr. Fore, and N. Wright were specimens; and in the
last such men as Hammond, Mansfield, S. P. Chase, [Footnote: Salmon P. Chase.] and
"All the newspapers in the city, except
"They then went to the houses of Dr. Bailey, Mr. Donaldson, and Mr. Birney; but the persons they sought were not at home, having been aware of what was intended. The mayor was a silent spectator of these proceedings, and was heard to say, 'Well, lads, you have done well, so far; go home now before you disgrace yourselves;' but the 'lads' spent the rest of the night and a greater part of the next day (Sunday) in pulling down the houses of inoffensive and respectable blacks. The 'Gazette' office was threatened, the 'Journal' office was to go next; Lane Seminary and the water-works also were mentioned as probable points to be attacked by the mob.
"By Tuesday morning the city was pretty well alarmed. A regular corps of volunteers was organized, who for three nights patrolled the streets with firearms and with legal warrant from the mayor, who by this time was glad to give it, to put down the mob even by bloodshed.
"For a day or two we did not know but there would actually be war to the knife, as was threatened by the mob, and we really saw Henry depart with his pistols with daily alarm, only we were all too full of patriotism not to have sent every brother we had rather than not have had the principles of freedom and order defended.
"But here the tide turned. The mob, unsupported by a now frightened community, slunk into their dens and were still; and then Hammond, who, during the few days of its prevalence, had made no comments, but published simply the Sermon on the Mount, the Constitution of Ohio, and the Declaration of Independence, without any comment, now came out and gave a simple, concise history of the mob, tracing it to the market-house meeting, telling the whole history of the meeting, with the names of those who got it up, throwing on them and on those who had acted on the committee the whole responsibility of the following mob. It makes a terrible sensation, but it 'cuts its way,' and all who took other stand than that of steady opposition from the first are beginning to feel the reaction of public sentiment, while newspapers from abroad are pouring in their reprehensions of the disgraceful conduct of Cincinnati. Another time, I suspect, such men as Judge Burnet, Mr. Greene, and Uncle John will keep their fingers out of such a trap, and people will all learn better than to wink at a mob that happens to please them at the outset, or in any way to give it their countenance. Mr. Greene and Uncle John were full of wrath against mobs, and would not go to the meeting, and yet were cajoled into acting on that committee in the vain hope of getting Birney to go away and thus preventing the outrage.
"They are justly punished, I think, for what was very irresolute and foolish conduct, to say the least."
The general tone of her letters at this tune would seem to
show that, while Mrs. Stowe was anti-slavery in her sympathies, she was not a
declared abolitionist. This is still further borne out in a letter written in
"The good people here, you know, are about half abolitionists. A lady who takes a leading part in the female society in this place yesterday called and brought Catherine the proceedings of the Female Anti-Slavery Convention.
"I should think them about as ultra as to measures as anything that has been attempted, though I am glad to see a better spirit than marks such proceedings generally.
"To-day I read some in Mr. Birney's 'Philanthropist.' Abolitionism being the fashion here, it is natural to look at its papers.
"It does seem to me that there needs to be an _intermediate_ society. If not, as light increases, all the excesses of the abolition party will not prevent humane and conscientious men from joining it.
"Pray what is there in
On September 29, 1836, while Professor Stowe was still
absent in Europe, his wife gave birth to twin daughters, Eliza and Isabella, as
she named them; but Eliza Tyler and Harriet Beecher, as her husband insisted
they should be called, when, upon reaching New York, he was greeted by the
joyful news. His trip from
During the summer of 1837 Mrs. Stowe suffered much from ill health, on which account, and to relieve her from domestic cares, she was sent to make a long visit at Putnam with her brother, Rev. William Beecher. While here she received a letter from her husband, in which he says:--
"We all of course feel proper indignation at the doings of last General Assembly, and shall treat them with merited contempt. This alliance between the old school (Presbyterians) and slaveholders will make more abolitionists than anything that has been done yet."
In December Professor Stowe went to
"To-day I have been visiting the governor and legislators. They received me with the utmost kindness, and are evidently anticipating much from my report. The governor communicated it to the legislature to-day, and it is concluded that I read it in Dr. Hodges' church on two evenings, to-morrow and the day after, before both houses of the legislature and the citizens. The governor (Vance) will preside at both meetings. I like him (the governor) much. He is just such a plain, simple-hearted, sturdy body as old Fritz (Kaiser Frederick), with more of natural talent than his predecessor in the gubernatorial chair. For my year's work in this matter I am to receive $500."
On January 14, 1838, Mrs. Stowe's third child, Henry Ellis, was born.
It was about this time that the famous reunion of the
Side by side with this charming picture we have another of domestic life outlined by Mrs. Stowe's own hand. It is contained in the following letter, written June 21, 1838, to Miss May, at New Haven, Conn.:--
MY DEAR, DEAR GEORGIANA,--Only think how long it is since I have written to you, and how changed I am since then--the mother of three children! Well, if I have not kept the reckoning of old times, let this last circumstance prove my apology, for I have been hand, heart, and head full since I saw you.
"Now, to-day, for example, I'll tell you what I had on my mind from dawn to dewy eve. In the first place I waked about half after four and thought, 'Bless me, how light it is! I must get out of bed and rap to wake up Mina, for breakfast must be had at six o'clock this morning.' So out of bed I jump and seize the tongs and pound, pound, pound over poor Mina's sleepy head, charitably allowing her about half an hour to get waked up in,--that being the quantum of time that it takes me,--or used to. Well, then baby wakes--quâ, quâ, quâ, so I give him his breakfast, dozing meanwhile and soliloquizing as follows: "Now I must not forget to tell Mr. Stowe about the starch and dried apples"--doze--"ah, um, dear me! why doesn't Mina get up? I don't hear her," --doze--"a, um,--I wonder if Mina has soap enough! I think there were two bars left on Saturday"--doze again--I wake again. "Dear me, broad daylight! I must get up and go down and see if Mina is getting breakfast." Up I jump and up wakes baby. "Now, little boy, be good and let mother dress, because she is in a hurry." I get my frock half on and baby by that time has kicked himself down off his pillow, and is crying and fisting the bed-clothes in great order. I stop with one sleeve off and one on to settle matters with him. Having planted him bolt upright and gone all up and down the chamber barefoot to get pillows and blankets, to prop him up, I finish putting my frock on and hurry down to satisfy myself by actual observation that the breakfast is in progress. Then back I come into the nursery, where, remembering that it is washing day and that there is a great deal of work to be done, I apply myself vigorously to sweeping, dusting, and the setting to rights so necessary where there are three little mischiefs always pulling down as fast as one can put up.
"Then there are Miss H---- and Miss E----, concerning whom Mary will furnish you with all suitable particulars, who are chattering, hallooing, or singing at the tops of their voices, as may suit their various states of mind, while the nurse is getting their breakfast ready. This meal being cleared away, Mr. Stowe dispatched to market with various memoranda of provisions, etc., and the baby being washed and dressed, I begin to think what next must be done. I start to cut out some little dresses, have just calculated the length and got one breadth torn off when Master Henry makes a doleful lip and falls to crying with might and main. I catch him up and turning round see one of his sisters flourishing the things out of my workbox in fine style. Moving it away and looking the other side I see the second little mischief seated by the hearth chewing coals and scraping up ashes with great apparent relish. Grandmother lays hold upon her and charitably offers to endeavor to quiet baby while I go on with my work. I set at it again, pick up a dozen pieces, measure them once more to see which is the right one, and proceed to cut out some others, when I see the twins on the point of quarreling with each other. Number one pushes number two over. Number two screams: that frightens the baby and he joins in. I call number one a naughty girl, take the persecuted one in my arms, and endeavor to comfort her by trotting to the old lyric:--
"So ride the gentlefolk, And so do we, so do we."
Meanwhile number one makes her way to the slop jar and forthwith proceeds to wash her apron in it. Grandmother catches her by one shoulder, drags her away, and sets the jar up out of her reach. By and by the nurse comes up from her sweeping. I commit the children to her, and finish cutting out the frocks.
But let this suffice, for of such details as these are all my days made up. Indeed, my dear, I am but a mere drudge with few ideas beyond babies and housekeeping. As for thoughts, reflections, and sentiments, good lack! good lack!
I suppose I am a dolefully uninteresting person at present, but I hope I shall grow young again one of these days, for it seems to me that matters cannot always stand exactly as they do now.
Well, Georgy, this marriage is--yes, I will speak well of it, after all; for when I can stop and think long enough to discriminate my head from my heels, I must say that I think myself a fortunate woman both in husband and children. My children I would not change for all the ease, leisure, and pleasure that I could have without them. They are money on interest whose value will be constantly increasing.
In 1839 Mrs. Stowe received into her family as a servant a
colored girl from
It is from this incident of real life and personal experience that Mrs. Stowe conceived the thrilling episode of the fugitives' escape from Tom Loker and Marks in "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
An amusing and at the same time most interesting account of her struggles to accomplish literary work amid her distracting domestic duties at this time is furnished by the letter of one of her intimate friends, who writes:--
"It was my good fortune to number Mrs. Stowe among my friends, and during a visit to her I had an opportunity one day of witnessing the combined exercise of her literary and domestic genius in a style that to me was quite amusing.
"'Come Harriet,' said I, as I found her tending one baby and watching two others just able to walk, 'where is that piece for the "Souvenir" which I promised the editor I would get from you and send on next week? You have only this one day left to finish it, and have it I must.'
"'And how will you get it, friend of mine?' said Harriet. 'You will at least have to wait till I get house-cleaning over and baby's teeth through.'
"'As to house-cleaning, you can defer it one day
longer; and as to baby's teeth, there is to be no end to them, as I can see.
No, no; to-day that story must be ended. There
"'But, my dear, here is a baby in my arms and two little pussies by my side, and there is a great baking down in the kitchen, and there is a "new girl" for "help," besides preparations to be made for house-cleaning next week. It is really out of the question, you see.'
"'I see no such thing. I do not know what genius is given for, if it is not to help a woman out of a scrape. Come, set your wits to work, let me have my way, and you shall have all the work done and finish the story too.'
"'Well, but kitchen affairs?'
"'We can manage them too. You know you can write anywhere and anyhow. Just take your seat at the kitchen table with your writing weapons, and while you superintend Mina fill up the odd snatches of time with the labors of your pen.'
"I carried my point. In ten minutes she was seated; a table with flour, rolling-pin, ginger, and lard on one side, a dresser with eggs, pork, and beans and various cooking utensils on the other, near her an oven heating, and beside her a dark-skinned nymph, waiting orders.
"'Here, Harriet,' said I, 'you can write on this atlas in your lap; no matter how the writing looks, I will copy it.'
"'Well, well,' said she, with a resigned sort of amused look. 'Mina, you may do what I told you, while I write a few minutes, till it is time to mould up the bread. Where is the inkstand?'
"'Here it is, close by, on the top of the tea-kettle,' said I.
"At this Mina giggled, and we both laughed to see her merriment at our literary proceedings.
"I began to overhaul the portfolio to find the right sheet.
"'Here it is,' said I. 'Here is
"'Yes, yes,' said she, falling into a muse, as she attempted to recover the thread of her story.
"'Ma'am, shall I put the pork on the top of the beans?' asked Mina.
"'Come, come,' said Harriet, laughing. 'You see how it is. Mina is a new hand and cannot do anything without me to direct her. We must give up the writing for to-day.'
"'No, no; let us have another trial. You can dictate as easily as you can write. Come, I can set the baby in this clothes-basket and give him some mischief or other to keep him quiet; you shall dictate and I will write. Now, this is the place where you left off: you were describing the scene between Ellen and her lover; the last sentence was, "Borne down by the tide of agony, she leaned her head on her hands, the tears streamed through her fingers, and her whole frame shook with convulsive sobs." What shall I write next?'
"'Mina, pour a little milk into this pearlash,' said Harriet.
"Harriet paused and looked musingly out of the window, as she turned her mind to her story. 'You may write now,' said she, and she dictated as follows:
"'"Her lover wept with her, nor dared he again to touch the point so sacredly guarded"--Mina, roll that crust a little thinner. "He spoke in soothing tones"--Mina, poke the coals in the oven.'
"'Here,' said I, 'let me direct Mina about these matters, and write a while yourself.'
"Harriet took the pen and patiently set herself to the work. For a while my culinary knowledge and skill were proof to all Mina's investigating inquiries, and they did not fail till I saw two pages completed.
"'You have done bravely,' said I, as I read over the manuscript; 'now you must direct Mina a while. Meanwhile dictate and I will write.'
"Never was there a more docile literary lady than my friend. Without a word of objection she followed my request.
"'I am ready to write,' said
"'Shall I put in the brown or the white bread first?' said Mina.
"'The brown first,' said Harriet.
"'"What is this life to one who has suffered as I have?"' said I.
"Harriet brushed the flour off her apron and sat down for a moment in a muse. Then she dictated as follows:--
"'"Under the breaking of my heart I have borne up. I have borne up under all that tries a woman,--but this thought,--oh, Henry!"'
"'Ma'am, shall I put ginger into this pumpkin?' queried Mina.
"'No, you may let that alone just now,' replied Harriet. She then proceeded:--
"'"I know my duty to my children. I see the hour must come. You must take them, Henry; they are my last earthly comfort."'
"'Ma'am, what shall I do with these egg-shells and all this truck here?' interrupted Mina.
"'Put them in the pail by you,' answered Harriet.
"'"They are my last earthly comfort,"' said
"She continued to dictate,--
"'"You must take them away. It may be---perhaps it _must_ be---that I shall soon follow, but the breaking heart of a wife still pleads, 'a little longer, a little longer.'"'
"'How much longer must the gingerbread stay in?' inquired Mina.
"'Five minutes,' said Harriet.
"'"A little longer, a little longer,"' I repeated in a dolorous tone, and we burst into a laugh.
"Thus we went on, cooking, writing, nursing, and laughing, till I finally accomplished my object. The piece was finished, copied, and the next day sent to the editor."
The widely scattered members of the
One of these great, closely-written sheets, bearing in faded
ink the names of all the
WALNUT HILLS, 27,1839.
DEAR FRIENDS,---I am going to
FAMINE IN CINCINNATI.--SUMMER AT THE EAST.--PLANS FOR LITERARY WORK.--EXPERIENCE ON A RAILROAD.--DEATH OF HER BROTHER GEORGE.--SICKNESS AND DESPAIR.--A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF HEALTH.--GOES TO BRATTLEBORO' WATERCURE.--TROUBLES AT LANE SEMINARY.---CHOLERA IN CINCINNATI.--DEATH OF YOUNGEST CHILD.---DETERMINED TO LEAVE THE WEST.
On January 7, 1839, Professor Stowe wrote to his mother in
"Our new house is pretty much as it was, but they say
it will be finished in July. I expect to visit you next summer, as I shall
deliver the Phi Beta Kappa oration at
Mrs. Stowe came on to the East with her husband and children
during the following summer, and before her return made a trip through the
In May, 1840, her second son was born and named Frederick William, after the sturdy Prussian king, for whom her husband cherished an unbounded admiration.
Mrs. Stowe has said somewhere: "So we go, dear reader, so long as we have a body and a soul. For worlds must mingle,--the great and the little, the solemn and the trivial, wreathing in and out like the grotesque carvings on a gothic shrine; only did we know it rightly, nothing is trivial, since the human soul, with its awful shadow, makes all things sacred." So in writing a biography it is impossible for us to tell what did and what did not powerfully influence the character. It is safer simply to tell the unvarnished truth. The lily builds up its texture of delicate beauty from mould and decay. So how do we know from what humble material a soul grows in strength and beauty!
In December, 1840, writing to Miss May, Mrs. Stowe says:--
"For a year I have held the pen only to write an
occasional business letter such as could not be neglected. This was primarily
owing to a severe neuralgic complaint that settled in my eyes, and for two
months not only made it impossible for me to use them in writing, but to fix
them with attention on anything. I could not even bear the least light of day
in my room. Then my dear little
"For all that my history of the past year records so many troubles, I cannot on the whole regard it as a very troublous one. I have had so many counterbalancing mercies that I must regard myself as a person greatly blessed. It is true that about six months out of the twelve I have been laid up with sickness, but then I have had every comfort and the kindest of nurses in my faithful Anna. My children have thriven, and on the whole 'come to more,' as the Yankees say, than the care of them. Thus you see my troubles have been but enough to keep me from loving earth too well."
In the spring of 1842 Mrs. Stowe again visited
"My dear, you must be a literary woman. It is so written in the book of fate. Make all your calculations accordingly. Get a good stock of health and brush up your mind. Drop the E. out of your name. It only incumbers it and interferes with the flow and euphony. Write yourself fully and always Harriet Beecher Stowe, which is a name euphonious, flowing, and full of meaning. Then my word for it, your husband will lift up his head in the gate, and your children will rise up and call you blessed.
"Our humble dwelling has to-day received a
distinguished honor of which I must give you an account. It was a visit from
his excellency the Baron de Roenne, ambassador of his
majesty the King of Prussia to the
"And now, my dear wife, I want you to come home as quick as you can. The fact is I cannot live without you, and if we were not so prodigious poor I would come for you at once. There is no woman like you in this wide world. Who else has so much talent with so little self-conceit; so much reputation with so little affectation; so much literature with so little nonsense; so much enterprise with so little extravagance; so much tongue with so little scold; so much sweetness with so little softness; so much of so many things and so little of so many other things?"
In answer to this letter Mrs. Stowe writes from
"I have seen Johnson of the 'Evangelist.' He is very liberally disposed, and I may safely reckon on being paid for all I do there. Who is that Hale, Jr., that sent me the 'Boston Miscellany,' and will he keep his word with me? His offers are very liberal,--twenty dollars for three pages, not very close print. Is he to be depended on? If so, it is the best offer I have received yet. I shall get something from the Harpers some time this winter or spring. Robertson, the publisher here, says the book ('The Mayflower') will sell, and though the terms they offer me are very low, that I shall make something on it. For a second volume I shall be able to make better terms. On the whole, my dear, if I choose to be a literary lady, I have, I think, as good a chance of making profit by it as any one I know of. But with all this, I have my doubts whether I shall be able to do so.
"Our children are just coming to the age when everything depends on my efforts. They are delicate in health, and nervous and excitable, and need a mother's whole attention. Can I lawfully divide my attention by literary efforts?
"There is one thing I must suggest. If I am to write, I must have a room to myself, which shall be my room. I have in my own mind pitched on Mrs. Whipple's room. I can put the stove in it. I have bought a cheap carpet for it, and I have furniture enough at home to furnish it comfortably, and I only beg in addition that you will let me change the glass door from the nursery into that room and keep my plants there, and then I shall be quite happy.
"All last winter I felt the need of some place where I could go and be quiet and satisfied. I could not there, for there was all the setting of tables, and clearing up of tables, and dressing and washing of children, and everything else going on, and the constant falling of soot and coal dust on everything in the room was a constant annoyance to me, and I never felt comfortable there though I tried hard. Then if I came into the parlor where you were I felt as if I were interrupting you, and you know you sometimes thought so too.
"Now this winter let the cooking-stove be put into that room, and let the pipe run up through the floor into the room above. We can eat by our cooking-stove, and the children can be washed and dressed and keep their playthings in the room above, and play there when we don't want them below. You can study by the parlor fire, and I and my plants, etc., will take the other room. I shall keep my work and all my things there and feel settled and quiet. I intend to have a regular part of each day devoted to the children, and then I shall take them in there."
In his reply to this letter Professor Stowe says:--
"The little magazine ('The Souvenir') goes ahead
finely. Fisher sent down to
"If you only could come home to-day how happy should I be. I am daily finding out more and more (what I knew very well before) that you are the most intelligent and agreeable woman in the whole circle of my acquaintance."
That Professor Stowe's devoted admiration for his wife was reciprocated, and that a most perfect sympathy of feeling existed between the husband and wife, is shown by a line in one of Mrs. Stowe's letters from Hartford in which she says: "I was telling Belle yesterday that I did not know till I came away how much I was dependent upon you for information. There are a thousand favorite subjects on which I could talk with you better than with any one else. If you were not already my dearly loved husband I should certainly fall in love with you."
In this same letter she writes of herself:--
"One thing more in regard to myself. The absence and wandering of mind and forgetfulness that so often vexes you is a physical infirmity with me. It is the failing of a mind not calculated to endure a great pressure of care, and so much do I feel the pressure I am under, so much is my mind often darkened and troubled by care, that life seriously considered holds out few allurements,--only my children.
"In returning to my family, from whom I have been so long separated, I am impressed with a new and solemn feeling of responsibility. It appears to me that I am not probably destined for long life; at all events, the feeling is strongly impressed upon my mind that a work is put into my hands which I must be earnest to finish shortly. It is nothing great or brilliant in the world's eye; it lies in one small family circle, of which I am called to be the central point."
On her way home from this Eastern visit Mrs. Stowe traveled for the first time by rail, and of this novel experience she writes to Miss Georgiana May:--
"Here I am at Brother William's, and our passage along this railroad reminds me of the verse of the psalm:--
"Tho' lions roar and tempests blow, And rocks and dangers fill the way."
Such confusion of tongues, such shouting and swearing, such
want of all sort of system and decency in
arrangements, I never desire to see again. I was literally almost trodden down
and torn to pieces in the
The winter of 1842 was one of peculiar trial to the family at Walnut Hills; as Mrs. Stowe writes, "It was a season of sickness and gloom." Typhoid fever raged among the students of the seminary, and the house of the president was converted into a hospital, while the members of his family were obliged to devote themselves to nursing the sick and dying.
July 6, 1843, a few weeks before the birth of her third daughter, Georgiana May, a most terrible and overwhelming sorrow came on Mrs. Stowe, in common with all the family, in the sudden death of her brother, the Rev. George Beecher.
He was a young man of unusual talent and ability, and much loved by his church and congregation. The circumstances of his death are related in a letter written by Mrs. Stowe, and are as follows: "Noticing the birds destroying his fruit and injuring his plants, he went for a double-barreled gun, which he scarcely ever had used, out of regard to the timidity and anxiety of his wife in reference to it. Shortly after he left the house, one of the elders of his church in passing saw him discharge one barrel at the birds. Soon after he heard the fatal report and saw the smoke, but the trees shut out the rest from sight. . . . In about half an hour after, the family assembled at breakfast, and the servant was sent out to call him. . . . In a few minutes she returned, exclaiming, 'Oh, Mr. Beecher is dead! Mr. Beecher is dead!' . . . In a short time a visitor in the family, assisted by a passing laborer, raised him up and bore him to the house. His face was pale and but slightly marred, his eyes were closed, and over his countenance rested the sweet expression of peaceful slumber. . . . Then followed the hurried preparations for the funeral and journey, until three o'clock, when, all arrangements being made, he was borne from his newly finished house, through his blooming garden, to the new church, planned and just completed under his directing eye. . . . The sermon and the prayers were finished, the choir he himself had trained sung their parting hymn, and at about five the funeral train started for a journey of over seventy miles. That night will stand alone in the memories of those who witnessed its scenes!
"At ten in the evening heavy clouds gathered lowering behind, and finally rose so as nearly to cover the hemisphere, sending forth mutterings of thunder and constant flashes of lightning.
"The excessive heat of the weather, the darkness of the night, the solitary road, the flaring of the lamps and lanterns, the flashes of the lightning, the roll of approaching thunder, the fear of being overtaken in an unfrequented place and the lights extinguished by the rain, the sad events of the day, the cries of the infant boy sick with the heat and bewailing the father who ever before had soothed his griefs, all combined to awaken the deepest emotions of the sorrowful, the awful, and the sublime. . . .
"And so it is at last; there must come a time when all that the most heart-broken, idolizing love can give us is a coffin and a grave! All that could be done for our brother, with all his means and all the affection of his people and friends, was just this, no more! After all, the deepest and most powerful argument for the religion of Christ is its power in times like this. Take from us Christ and what He taught, and what have we here? What confusion, what agony, what dismay, what wreck and waste! But give Him to us, even the most stricken heart can rise under the blow; yea, even triumph!
"'Thy brother shall rise again,' said Jesus; and to us who weep He speaks: 'Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are made partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory shall be revealed, ye also may be glad with exceeding joy!'"
The advent of Mrs. Stowe's third daughter was followed by a protracted illness and a struggle with great poverty, of which Mrs. Stowe writes in October, 1843:--
"Our straits for money this year are unparalleled even
in our annals. Even our bright and cheery neighbor Allen begins to look blue,
and says $600 is the very most we can hope to collect of our salary, once
$1,200. We have a flock of entirely destitute young men in the seminary, as
poor in money as they are rich in mental and spiritual resources. They promise
to be as fine a band as those we have just sent off. We have two from
In the spring of 1844 Professor Stowe visited the East to arouse an interest in the struggling seminary and raise funds for its maintenance. While he was there he received the following letter from Mrs. Stowe:--
"I am already half sick with confinement to the house and overwork. If I should sew every day for a month to come I should not be able to accomplish a half of what is to be done, and should be only more unfit for my other duties."
This struggle against ill-health and poverty was continued through that year and well into the next, when, during her husband's absence to attend a ministerial convention at Detroit, Mrs. Stowe writes to him:--
_June_ 16, 1845.
"MY DEAR HUSBAND,--It is a dark, sloppy, rainy, muddy, disagreeable day, and I have been working hard (for me) all day in the kitchen, washing dishes, looking into closets, and seeing a great deal of that dark side of domestic life which a housekeeper may who will investigate too curiously into minutiae in warm, damp weather, especially after a girl who keeps all clean on the _outside_ of cup and platter, and is very apt to make good the rest of the text in the _inside_ of things.
I am sick of the smell of sour milk, and sour meat, and sour everything, and then the clothes _will_ not dry, and no wet thing does, and everything smells mouldy; and altogether I feel as if I never wanted to eat again.
Your letter, which was neither sour nor mouldy, formed a very agreeable contrast to all these things; the more so for being unexpected. I am much obliged to you for it. As to my health, it gives me very little solicitude, although I am bad enough and daily growing worse. I feel no life, no energy, no appetite, or rather a growing distaste for food; in fact, I am becoming quite ethereal. Upon reflection I perceive that it pleases my Father to keep me in the fire, for my whole situation is excessively harassing and painful. I suffer with sensible distress in the brain, as I have done more or less since my sickness last winter, a distress which some days takes from me all power of planning or executing anything; and you know that, except this poor head, my unfortunate household has no mainspring, for nobody feels any kind of responsibility to do a thing in time, place, or manner, except as I oversee it.
Georgiana is so excessively weak, nervous, cross, and fretful, night and day, that she takes all Anna's strength and time with her; and then the children are, like other little sons and daughters of Adam, full of all kinds of absurdity and folly.
When the brain gives out, as mine often does, and one cannot think or remember anything, then what is to be done? All common fatigue, sickness, and exhaustion is nothing to this distress. Yet do I rejoice in my God and know in whom I believe, and only pray that the fire may consume the dross; as to the gold, that is imperishable. No real evil can happen to me, so I fear nothing for the future, and only suffer in the present tense.
God, the mighty God, is mine, of that I am sure, and I know He knows that though flesh and heart fail, I am all the while desiring and trying for his will alone. As to a journey, I need not ask a physician to see that it is needful to me as far as health is concerned, that is to say, all human appearances are that way, but I feel no particular choice about it. If God wills I go. He can easily find means. Money, I suppose, is as plenty with Him now as it always has been, and if He sees it is really best He will doubtless help me."
That the necessary funds were provided is evident from the
fact that the journey was undertaken and the invalid spent the summer of 1845
At this time, under date of March, 1846, she writes:
"For all I have had trouble I can think of nothing but the greatness and richness of God's mercy to me in giving me such friends, and in always caring for us in every strait. There has been no day this winter when I have not had abundant reason to see this. Some friend has always stepped in to cheer and help, so that I have wanted for nothing. My husband has developed wonderfully as house-father and nurse. You would laugh to see him in his spectacles gravely marching the little troop in their nightgowns up to bed, tagging after them, as he says, like an old hen after a flock of ducks. The money for my journey has been sent in from an unknown hand in a wonderful manner. All this shows the care of our Father, and encourages me to rejoice and to hope in Him."
A few days after her departure Professor Stowe wrote to his wife:--
"I was greatly comforted by your brief letter from
"Henry and I have been living in a Robinson Crusoe and man Friday sort of style, greatly to our satisfaction, ever since you went away."
Mrs. Stowe was accompanied to
From May, 1846, until March, 1847, she remained at
The following extracts, taken from letters written by her during this period, are of value, as revealing what it is possible to know of her habits of thought and mode of life at this time.
MY DEAR HUSBAND,--I have been thinking of all your trials, and I really pity you in having such a wife. I feel as if I had been only a hindrance to you instead of a help, and most earnestly and daily do I pray to God to restore my health that I may do something for you and my family. I think if I were only at home I could at least sweep and dust, and wash potatoes, and cook a little, and talk some to my children, and should be doing something for my family. But the hope of getting better buoys me up. I go through these tedious and wearisome baths and bear that terrible douche thinking of my children. They never will know how I love them. . . .
There is great truth and good sense in your analysis of the cause of our past failures. We have now come to a sort of crisis. If you and I do as we should for _five years_ to come the character of our three oldest children will be established. This is why I am willing to spend so much time and make such efforts to have health. Oh, that God would give me these five years in full possession of mind and body, that I may train my children as they should be trained. I am fully aware of the importance of system and order in a family. I know that nothing can be done without it; it is the keystone, the _sine quâ non_, and in regard to my children I place it next to piety. At the same time it is true that both Anna [Footnote: The governess, Miss Anna Smith.] and I labor under serious natural disadvantages on this subject. It is not all that is necessary to feel the importance of order and system, but it requires a particular kind of talent to carry it through a family. Very much the same kind of talent, as Uncle Samuel said, which is necessary to make a good prime minister. . . .
I think you might make an excellent sermon to Christians on the care of health, in consideration of the various infirmities and impediments to the developing the results of religion, that result from bodily ill health, and I wish you would make one that your own mind may be more vividly impressed with it. The world is too much in a hurry. Ministers think there is no way to serve Christ but to overdraw on their physical capital for four or five years for Christ and then have nothing to give, but become a mere burden on his hands for the next five. . . .
"The daily course I go through presupposes a degree of
vigor beyond anything I ever had before. For this week, I have gone before
breakfast to the wave-bath and let all the waves and billows roll over me till
every limb ached with cold and my hands would scarcely have feeling enough to
dress me. After that I have walked till I was warm, and come home to breakfast
with such an appetite! Brown bread and milk are luxuries indeed, and the only
fear is that I may eat too much. At eleven comes my douche, to which I have
walked in a driving rain for the last two days, and after it walked in the rain
again till I was warm. (The umbrella you gave me at
"I am anxious for your health; do be persuaded to try a
long walk before breakfast. You don't know how much good it will do you. Don't
sit in your hot study without any ventilation, a stove burning up all the
vitality of the air and weakening your nerves, and above all, do amuse
yourself. Go to Dr. Mussey's and spend an evening, and to father's and
Professor Allen's. When you feel worried go off somewhere
and forget and throw it off. I should really rejoice to hear that you and
father and mother, with Professor and Mrs. Allen, Mrs. K., and a few others of
the same calibre would agree to meet together for dancing cotillons. It would
do you all good, and if you took Mr. K.'s wife and poor Miss Much-Afraid, her
daughter, into the alliance it would do them good. Bless me! what
a profane set everybody would think you were, and yet you are the people of all
the world most solemnly in need of it. I wish you could be with me in
[Illustration: Ding, dong! Dead and gone!]
MY DEAR SOUL,--I received your most melancholy effusion, and I am sorry to find it's just so. I entirely agree and sympathize. Why didn't you engage the two tombstones--one for you and one for me?
I shall have to copy for your edification a "poem on tombstones" which Kate put at Christmas into the stocking of one of our most hypochondriac gentlemen, who had pished and pshawed at his wife and us for trying to get up a little fun. This poem was fronted with the above vignette and embellished with sundry similar ones, and tied with a long black ribbon. There were only two cantos in very concise style, so I shall send you them entire.
In the kingdom of _Mortin_ I had the good fortin' To find these verses On tombs and on hearses, Which I, being jinglish Have done into English.
The man what's so colickish When his friends are all frolickish As to turn up his noses And turn on his toses Shall have only verses On tombstones and hearses.
But, seriously, my dear husband, you must try and be patient, for this cannot last forever. Be patient and bear it like the toothache, or a driving rain, or anything else that you cannot escape. To see things as through a glass darkly is your infirmity, you know; but the Lord will yet deliver you from this trial. I know how to pity you, for the last three weeks I have suffered from an overwhelming mental depression, a perfect heartsickness. All I wanted was to get home and die. Die I was very sure I should at any rate, but I suppose I was never less prepared to do so."
The long exile was ended in the spring of 1847, and in May
Mrs. Stowe returned to her
Her sixth child, Samuel Charles, was born in January of 1848, and about this time her husband's health became so seriously impaired that it was thought desirable for him in turn to spend a season at the Brattleboro' water-cure. He went in June, 1848, and was compelled by the very precarious state of his health to remain until September, 1849. During this period of more than a year Mrs. Stowe remained in Cincinnati caring for her six children, eking out her slender income by taking boarders and writing when she found time, confronting a terrible epidemic of cholera that carried off one of her little flock, and in every way showing herself to be a brave woman, possessed of a spirit that could rise superior to all adversity. Concerning this time she writes in January, 1849, to her dearest friend:--
MY BELOVED GEORGY,--For six months after my return from
"Well, Georgy, I am thirty-seven years old! I am glad of it. I like to grow old and have six children and cares endless. I wish you could see me with my flock all around me. They sum up my cares, and were they gone I should ask myself, What now remains to be done? They are my work, over which I fear and tremble."
In the early summer of 1849 cholera broke out in
MY DEAR HUSBAND,--This week has been unusually fatal. The disease in the city has been malignant and virulent. Hearse drivers have scarce been allowed to unharness their horses, while furniture carts and common vehicles are often employed for the removal of the dead. The sable trains which pass our windows, the frequent indications of crowding haste, and the absence of reverent decency have, in many cases, been most painful. Of course all these things, whether we will or no, bring very doleful images to the mind.
On Tuesday one hundred and sixteen deaths from cholera were reported, and that night the air was of that peculiarly oppressive, deathly kind that seems to lie like lead on the brain and soul.
As regards your coming home, I am decidedly opposed to it.
First, because the chance of your being taken ill is just as great as the
chance of your being able to render us any help. To exchange the salubrious air
Second, none of us are sick, and it is very uncertain whether we shall be.
Third, if we were sick there are so many of us that it is not at all likely we shall all be taken at once.
_July_ 1. Yesterday Mr. Stagg went to the city and found all gloomy and discouraged, while a universal panic seemed to be drawing nearer than ever before. Large piles of coal were burning on the cross walks and in the public squares, while those who had talked confidently of the cholera being confined to the lower classes and those who were imprudent began to feel as did the magicians of old, "This is the finger of God."
Yesterday, upon the recommendation of all the clergymen of the city, the mayor issued a proclamation for a day of general fasting, humiliation, and prayer, to be observed on Tuesday next.
_July_ 3. We are all in good health and try to maintain a calm and cheerful frame of mind. The doctors are nearly used up. Dr. Bowen and Dr. Peck are sick in bed. Dr. Potter and Dr. Pulte ought, I suppose, to be there also. The younger physicians have no rest night or day. Mr. Fisher is laid up from his incessant visitations with the sick and dying. Our own Dr. Brown is likewise prostrated, but we are all resolute to stand by each other, and there are so many of us that it is not likely we can all be taken sick together.
_July_ 4. All well. The meeting yesterday was very solemn and interesting. There is more or less sickness about us, but no very dangerous cases. One hundred and twenty burials from cholera alone yesterday, yet to-day we see parties bent on pleasure or senseless carousing, while to-morrow and next day will witness a fresh harvest of death from them. How we can become accustomed to anything! Awhile ago ten a day dying of cholera struck terror to all hearts; but now the tide has surged up gradually until the deaths average over a hundred daily, and everybody is getting accustomed to it. Gentlemen make themselves agreeable to ladies by reciting the number of deaths in this house or that. This together with talk of funerals, cholera medicines, cholera dietetics, and chloride of lime form the ordinary staple of conversation. Serious persons of course throw in moral reflections to their taste.
_July_ 10. Yesterday little Charley was taken ill, not seriously, and at any other season I should not be alarmed. Now, however, a slight illness seems like a death sentence, and I will not dissemble that I feel from the outset very little hope. I still think it best that you should not return. By so doing you might lose all you have gained. You might expose yourself to a fatal incursion of disease. It is decidedly not your duty to do so.
_July_ 12. Yesterday I carried Charley to Dr. Pulte, who spoke in such a manner as discouraged and frightened me. He mentioned dropsy on the brain as a possible result. I came home with a heavy heart, sorrowing, desolate, and wishing my husband and father were here.
About one o'clock this morning Miss Stewart suddenly opened my door crying, "Mrs. Stowe, Henry is vomiting." I was on my feet in an instant, and lifted up my heart for help. He was, however, in a few minutes relieved. Then I turned my attention to Charley, who was also suffering, put him into a wet sheet, and kept him there until he was in a profuse perspiration. He is evidently getting better, and is auspiciously cross. Never was crossness in a baby more admired. Anna and I have said to each other exultingly a score of times, "How cross the little fellow is! How he does scold!"
_July_ 15. Since I last wrote our house has been a perfect hospital. Charley apparently recovering, but still weak and feeble, unable to walk or play, and so miserably fretful and unhappy. Sunday Anna and I were fairly stricken down, as many others are, with no particular illness, but with such miserable prostration. I lay on the bed all day reading my hymn-book and thinking over passages of Scripture.
_July_ 17. To-day we have been attending poor old Aunt Frankie's [Footnote: An old colored woman.] funeral. She died yesterday morning, taken sick the day before while washing. Good, honest, trustful old soul! She was truly one who hungered and thirsted for righteousness.
Yesterday morning our poor little dog, Daisy, who had been ailing the day before, was suddenly seized with frightful spasms and died in half an hour. Poor little affectionate thing! If I were half as good for my nature as she for hers I should be much better than I am. While we were all mourning over her the news came that Aunt Frankie was breathing her last. Hatty, Eliza, Anna, and I made her shroud yesterday, and this morning I made her cap. We have just come from her grave.
_July_ 23. At last, my dear, the hand of the Lord hath touched us. We have been watching all day by the dying bed of little Charley, who is gradually sinking. After a partial recovery from the attack I described in my last letter he continued for some days very feeble, but still we hoped for recovery. About four days ago he was taken with decided cholera, and now there is no hope of his surviving this night.
Every kindness is shown us by the neighbors. Do not return. All will be over before you could possibly get here, and the epidemic is now said by the physicians to prove fatal to every new case. Bear up. Let us not faint when we are rebuked of Him. I dare not trust myself to say more but shall write again soon.
_July_ 26. MY DEAR HUSBAND,--At
last it is over and our dear little one is gone from us. He is now among the
blessed. My Charley--my beautiful, loving, gladsome baby, so loving, so sweet, so full of life and hope and strength--now lies shrouded,
pale and cold, in the room below. Never was he anything to me but a comfort. He
has been my pride and joy. Many a heartache has he cured for me. Many an
anxious night have I held him to my bosom and felt the sorrow and loneliness
pass out of me with the touch of his little warm hands. Yet I have just seen
him in his death agony, looked on his imploring face when I could not help nor
soothe nor do one thing, not one, to mitigate his cruel suffering, do nothing
but pray in my anguish that he might die soon. I write as though there were no
sorrow like my sorrow, yet there has been in this city, as in the
MRS. STOWE'S REMARKS ON WRITING AND UNDERSTANDING
BIOGRAPHY.--THEIR APPROPRIATENESS TO HER OWN BIOGRAPHY.--REASONS FOR PROFESSOR
STOWE'S LEAVING CINCINNATI.--MRS. STOWE'S JOURNEY TO BROOKLYN.--HER BROTHER'S
Early in the winter of 1849 Mrs. Stowe wrote in a private
journal in which she recorded thought and feeling concerning religious themes:
"It has been said that it takes a man to write the life of a man; that is,
there must be similarity of mind in the person who undertakes to present the
character of another. This is true, also, of reading and understanding
biography. A statesman and general would read the life of Napoleon with the
spirit and the understanding, while the commonplace man plods through it as a
task. The difference is that the one, being of like mind and spirit with the
subject of the biography, is able to sympathize with him in all his thoughts
and experiences, and the other is not. The life of Henry Martyn would be
tedious and unintelligible to a mind like that of a Richelieu or a Mazarin.
They never experienced or saw or heard anything like it, and would be quite at
a loss where to place such a man in their mental categories. It is not strange,
therefore, that of all biography in the world that of Jesus Christ should be
least understood. It is an exception to all the world has ever seen. 'The world
knew Him not.' There is, to be sure, a simple grandeur about the life of Jesus
which awes almost every mind. The most hardened scoffer, after he has jested
and jeered at everything in the
After struggling for seventeen years with ill health and every possible vexation and hindrance in his work, Professor Stowe became convinced that it was his duty to himself and his family to seek some other field of labor.
February 6, 1850, he writes to his mother, in
"I have received many letters from friends in the East
expressing great gratification at the offer from
This offer from
The professorship was one just established through the gift
of Mrs. Collins, a member of
It was impossible for Professor Stowe to leave Lane Seminary till some one could be found to take his place; so it was determined that Mrs. Stowe, with three of the children, should start for the East in April, and having established the family in Brunswick, Professor Stowe was to come on with the remaining children when his engagements would permit.
The following extracts from a letter written by Mrs. Stowe
at her brother Henry's, at
"The boat got into
May 18, 1850, we find her writing from
MY DEAR HUSBAND,--I came here from
I expect to go to
To come alone such a distance with the whole charge of children, accounts, and baggage; to push my way through hurrying crowds, looking out for trunks, and bargaining with hackmen, has been a very severe trial of my strength, to say nothing of the usual fatigues of traveling.
It was at this time, and as a result of the experiences of this trying period, that Mrs. Stowe wrote that little tract dear to so many Christian hearts, "Earthly Care a Heavenly Discipline."
On the eve of sailing for Brunswick, Mrs. Stowe writes to
Mrs. Sykes (Miss May): "I am wearied and worn out with seeing to
bedsteads, tables, chairs, mattresses, with thinking about shipping my goods
and making out accounts, and I have my trunk yet to pack, as I go on board the
Bath steamer this evening. I beg you to look up
"I have sent some overtures to Wright. If he accepts my pieces and pays you for them, take the money and use it as you see necessary; if not, be sure and bring the pieces back to me. I am strong in spirit, and God who has been with me in so many straits will not forsake me now. I know Him well; He is my Father, and though I may be a blind and erring child, He will help me for all that. My trust through all errors and sins is in Him. He who helped poor timid Jacob through all his fears and apprehensions, who helped Abraham even when he sinned, who was with David in his wanderings, and who held up the too confident Peter when he began to sink,--He will help us, and his arms are about us, so that we shall not sink, my dear husband."
May 29, 1850, she writes from
The events of the first summer in
MY DEAR SISTER,--Is it really true that snow is on the ground and Christmas coming, and I have not written unto thee, most dear sister? No, I don't believe it! I haven't been so naughty--it's all a mistake--yes, written I must have--and written I have, too--in the night-watches as I lay on my bed--such beautiful letters--I wish you had only gotten them; but by day it has been hurry, hurry, hurry, and drive, drive, drive! or else the calm of a sick-room, ever since last spring.
I put off writing when your letter first came because I
meant to write you a long letter--a full and complete one, and so days slid
by,--and became weeks,--and my little Charlie came . . . etc. and etc.!!!
Sarah, when I look back, I wonder at myself, not that I forget any one thing
that I should remember, but that I have remembered anything. From the time that
Mrs. Stowe, how shall I make this lounge, and what shall I cover the back with first?
_Mrs. Stowe_. With the coarse cotton in the closet.
_Woman_. Mrs. Stowe, there isn't any more soap to clean the windows.
_Mrs. Stowe_. Where shall I get soap?
Here H., run up to the store and get two bars.
There is a man below wants to see Mrs. Stowe about the cistern. Before you go down, Mrs. Stowe, just show me how to cover this round end of the lounge.
There 's a man up from the depot, and he says that a box has come for Mrs. Stowe, and it's coming up to the house; will you come down and see about it?
Mrs. Stowe, don't go till you have shown the man how to nail that carpet in the corner. He 's nailed it all crooked; what shall he do? The black thread is all used up, and what shall I do about putting gimp on the back of that sofa? Mrs. Stowe, there is a man come with a lot of pails and tinware from Furbish; will you settle the bill now?
Mrs. Stowe, here is a letter just come from
Mrs. Stowe, the meat-man is at the door. Hadn't we better get a little beefsteak, or something, for dinner?
Shall Hatty go to Boardman's for some more black thread?
Mrs. Stowe, this cushion is an inch too wide for the frame. What shall we do now?
Mrs. Stowe, where are the screws of the black walnut bedstead?
Here's a man has brought in these bills for freight. Will you settle them now?
Mrs. Stowe, I don't understand using this great needle. I can't make it go through the cushion; it sticks in the cotton.
Then comes a letter from my husband saying he is sick abed, and all but dead; don't ever expect to see his family again; wants to know how I shall manage, in case I am left a widow; knows we shall get in debt and never get out; wonders at my courage; thinks I am very sanguine; warns me to be prudent, as there won't be much to live on in case of his death, etc., etc., etc. I read the letter and poke it into the stove, and proceed. . . .
Some of my adventures were quite funny; as for example: I had in my kitchen elect no sink, cistern, or any other water privileges, so I bought at the cotton factory two of the great hogsheads they bring oil in, which here in Brunswick are often used for cisterns, and had them brought up in triumph to my yard, and was congratulating myself on my energy, when lo and behold! it was discovered that there was no cellar door except one in the kitchen, which was truly a strait and narrow way, down a long pair of stairs. Hereupon, as saith John Bunyan, I fell into a muse,--how to get my cisterns into my cellar. In days of chivalry I might have got a knight to make me a breach through the foundation walls, but that was not to be thought of now, and my oil hogsheads standing disconsolately in the yard seemed to reflect no great credit on my foresight. In this strait I fell upon a real honest Yankee cooper, whom I besought, for the reputation of his craft and mine, to take my hogsheads to pieces, carry them down in staves, and set them up again, which the worthy man actually accomplished one fair summer forenoon, to the great astonishment of "us Yankees." When my man came to put up the pump, he stared very hard to see my hogsheads thus translated and standing as innocent and quiet as could be in the cellar, and then I told him, in a very mild, quiet way, that I got 'em taken to pieces and put together--just as if I had been always in the habit of doing such things. Professor Smith came down and looked very hard at them and then said, "Well, nothing can beat a willful woman." Then followed divers negotiations with a very clever, but (with reverence) somewhat lazy gentleman of jobs, who occupieth a carpenter's shop opposite to mine. This same John Titcomb, my very good friend, is a character peculiar to Yankeedom. He is part owner and landlord of the house I rent, and connected by birth with all the best families in town; a man of real intelligence, and good education, a great reader, and quite a thinker. Being of an ingenious turn he does painting, gilding, staining, upholstery jobs, varnishing, all in addition to his primary trade of carpentry. But he is a man studious of ease, and fully possessed with the idea that man wants but little here below; so he boards himself in his workshop on crackers and herring, washed down with cold water, and spends his time working, musing, reading new publications, and taking his comfort. In his shop you shall see a joiner's bench, hammers, planes, saws, gimlets, varnish, paint, picture frames, fence posts, rare old china, one or two fine portraits of his ancestry, a bookcase full of books, the tooth of a whale, an old spinning-wheel and spindle, a lady's parasol frame, a church lamp to be mended, in short, Henry says Mr. Titcomb's shop is like the ocean; there is no end to the curiosities in it.
In all my moving and fussing Mr. Titcomb has been my right-hand man. Whenever a screw was loose, a nail to be driven, a lock mended, a pane of glass set, and these cases were manifold, he was always on hand. But my sink was no fancy job, and I believe nothing but a very particular friendship would have moved him to undertake it. So this same sink lingered in a precarious state for some weeks, and when I had _nothing else to do_, I used to call and do what I could in the way of enlisting the good man's sympathies in its behalf.
How many times I have been in and seated myself in one of the old rocking-chairs, and talked first of the news of the day, the railroad, the last proceedings in Congress, the probabilities about the millennium, and thus brought the conversation by little and little round to my sink! . . . because, till the sink was done, the pump could not be put up, and we couldn't have any rain-water. Sometimes my courage would quite fail me to introduce the subject, and I would talk of everything else, turn and get out of the shop, and then turn back as if a thought had just struck my mind, and say:--
"Oh, Mr. Titcomb! about that sink?"
"Yes, ma'am, I was thinking about going down street this afternoon to look out stuff for it."
"Yes, sir, if you would be good enough to get it done as soon as possible; we are in great need of it."
"I think there's no hurry. I believe we are going to have a dry time now, so that you could not catch any water, and you won't need a pump at present."
These negotiations extended from the first of June to the first of July, and at last my sink was completed, and so also was a new house spout, concerning which I had had divers communings with Deacon Dunning of the Baptist church. Also during this time good Mrs. Mitchell and myself made two sofas, or lounges, a barrel chair, divers bedspreads, pillow cases, pillows, bolsters, mattresses; we painted rooms; we revarnished furniture; we--what _didn't_ we do?
Then came on Mr. Stowe; and then came the eighth of July and my little Charley. I was really glad for an excuse to lie in bed, for I was full tired, I can assure you. Well, I was what folks call very comfortable for two weeks, when my nurse had to leave me. . . .
During this time I have employed my leisure hours in making
up my engagements with newspaper editors. I have written more than anybody, or
I myself, would have thought. I have taught an hour a day in our school, and I
have read two hours every evening to the children. The children study English
history in school, and I am reading Scott's historic novels in their order.
To-night I finish the "Abbot;" shall begin "
I suppose you think now I have begun, I am never going to stop, and in truth it looks like it; but the spirit moves now and I must obey.
Christmas is coming, and our little household is all alive with preparations; every one collecting their little gifts with wonderful mystery and secrecy. . . .
To tell the truth, dear, I am getting tired; my neck and back ache, and I must come to a close.
Your ready kindness to me in the spring I felt very much; and _why_ I did not have the sense to have sent you one line just by way of acknowledgment, I'm sure I don't know; I felt just as if I had, till I awoke, and behold! I had not. But, my dear, if my wits are somewhat wool-gathering and unsettled, my heart is as true as a star. I love you, and have thought of you often.
This fall I have felt often _sad_, lonesome, both very
unusual feelings with me in these busy days; but the breaking away from my old
home, and leaving father and mother, and coming to a strange place affected me
naturally. In those sad hours my thoughts have often turned to George; I have
thought with encouragement of his blessed state, and hoped that I should soon
be there too. I have many warm and kind friends here, and have been treated
with great attention and kindness.
Give Aunt Harriet's love to him, and tell him when he gets to be a painter to send me a picture. Affectionately yours, H. STOWE.
The year 1850 is one memorable in the history of our nation
as well as in the quiet household that we have followed in its pilgrimage from
The signers of the Declaration of Independence and the
statesmen and soldiers of the Revolution were no friends of negro
slavery. In fact, the very principles of the Declaration of Independence
sounded the deathknell of slavery forever. No stronger utterances against this
national sin are to be found anywhere than in the letters and published
"It was the desire of Washington's heart that Virginia
should remove slavery by a public act; and as the prospects of a general
emancipation grew more and more dim . . . he did all that he could by
bequeathing freedom to his own slaves." [Footnote: Bancroft's funeral
From an economic standpoint slave labor had ceased to be profitable. "The whole interior of the Southern States was languishing, and its inhabitants emigrating, for want of some object to engage their attention and employ their industry." The cultivation of cotton was not profitable for the reason that there was no machine for separating the seed from the fibre.
This was the state of affairs in 1793, when Eli Whitney, a
New England mechanic, at this time residing in
The 7th of March, 1850, Daniel Webster made his celebrated speech, in which he defended this compromise, and the abolitionists of the North were filled with indignation, which found its most fitting expression in Whittier's "Ichabod:"
"So fallen, so lost, the glory from his gray hairs gone."
. . .
"When honor dies the man is dead."
It was in the midst of this excitement that Mrs. Stowe, with her children and her modest hopes for the future, arrived at the house of her brother, Dr. Edward Beecher.
Dr. Beecher had been the intimate friend and supporter of
Lovejoy, who had been murdered by the slaveholders at
After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, letter after
letter was received by Mrs. Stowe in
"I had been nourishing an anti-slavery spirit since
Lovejoy was murdered for publishing in his paper articles against slavery and
intemperance, when our home was in
A member of Mrs. Stowe's family well remembers the scene in
the little parlor in
This was the origin of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and Professor Cairnes has well said in his admirable work, "The Slave Power," "The Fugitive Slave Law has been to the slave power a questionable gain. Among its first-fruits was 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.'"
The purpose of writing a story that should make the whole nation feel that slavery was an accursed thing was not immediately carried out. In December, 1850, Mrs. Stowe writes: "Tell sister Katy I thank her for her letter and will answer it. As long as the baby sleeps with me nights I can't do much at anything, but I will do it at last. I will write that thing if I live.
"What are folks in general saying about the slave law, and the stand taken by
"To me it is incredible, amazing, mournful!!
I feel as if I should be willing to sink with it, were all this sin and misery
to sink in the sea. . . . I wish father would come on to
December 22, 1850, she writes to her husband in
_December_ 29,1850. "We have
had terrible weather here. I remember such a storm when I was a child in
Litchfield. Father and mother went to
"Sunday night I rather watched than slept. The wind
howled, and the house rocked just as our old Litchfield house used to. The cold
has been so intense that the children have kept begging to get up from table at
meal-times to warm feet and fingers. Our air-tight stoves warm all but the
floor,---heat your head and keep your feet freezing.
If I sit by the open fire in the parlor my back freezes, if I sit in my bedroom
and try to write my head aches and my feet are cold. I am projecting a sketch
for the 'Era' on the capabilities of liberated blacks to take care of themselves. Can't you find out for me how much Willie Watson
has paid for the redemption of his friends, and get any items in figures of
that kind that you can pick up in
January 12, 1851, Mrs. Stowe again writes to Professor Stowe
It was in the month of February after these words were
written that Mrs. Stowe was seated at communion service in the college church
Twenty-five years afterwards Mrs. Stowe wrote in a letter to one of her children, of this period of her life: "I well remember the winter you were a baby and I was writing 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' My heart was bursting with the anguish excited by the cruelty and injustice our nation was showing to the slave, and praying God to let me do a little and to cause my cry for them to be heard. I remember many a night weeping over you as you lay sleeping beside me, and I thought of the slave mothers whose babes were torn from them."
It was not till the following April that the first chapter
of the story was finished and sent on to the "National Era" at
In July Mrs. Stowe wrote to Frederick Douglass the following letter, which is given entire as the best possible introduction to the history of the career of that memorable work, "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
_Sir_,---You may perhaps have noticed in your editorial readings a series of articles that I am furnishing for the "Era" under the title of "Uncle Tom's Cabin, or Life among the Lowly.".
In the course of my story the scene will fall upon a cotton plantation. I am very desirous, therefore, to gain information from one who has been an actual laborer on one, and it occurred to me that in the circle of your acquaintance there might be one who would be able to communicate to me some such information as I desire. I have before me an able paper written by a Southern planter, in which the details and _modus operandi_ are given from his point of sight. I am anxious to have something more from another standpoint. I wish to be able to make a picture that shall be graphic and true to nature in its details. Such a person as Henry Bibb, if in the country, might give me just the kind of information I desire. You may possibly know of some other person. I will subjoin to this letter a list of questions, which in that case you will do me a favor by inclosing to the individual, with the request that he will at earliest convenience answer them.
For some few weeks past I have received your paper through the mail, and have read it with great interest, and desire to return my acknowledgments for it. It will be a pleasure to me at some time when less occupied to contribute something to its columns. I have noticed with regret your sentiments on two subjects--the church and African colonization, . . . with the more regret because I think you have a considerable share of reason for your feelings on both these subjects; but I would willingly, if I could, modify your views on both points.
In the first place you say the church is "pro-slavery." There is a sense in which this may be true. The American church of all denominations, taken as a body, comprises the best and most conscientious people in the country. I do not say it comprises none but these, or that none such are found out of it, but only if a census were taken of the purest and most high principled men and women of the country, the majority of them would be found to be professors of religion in some of the various Christian denominations. This fact has given to the church great weight in this country--the general and predominant spirit of intelligence and probity and piety of its majority has given it that degree of weight that it has the power to decide the great moral questions of the day. Whatever it unitedly and decidedly sets itself against as moral evil it can put down. In this sense the church is responsible for the sin of slavery. Dr. Barnes has beautifully and briefly expressed this on the last page of his work on slavery, when he says: "Not all the force out of the church could sustain slavery an hour if it were not sustained in it." It then appears that the church has the power to put an end to this evil and does not do it. In this sense she may be said to be pro-slavery. But the church has the same power over intemperance, and Sabbath-breaking, and sin of all kinds. There is not a doubt that if the moral power of the church were brought up to the New Testament standpoint it is sufficient to put an end to all these as well as to slavery. But I would ask you, Would you consider it a fair representation of the Christian church in this country to say that it is pro-intemperance, pro-Sabbath-breaking, and pro everything that it might put down if it were in a higher state of moral feeling? If you should make a list of all the abolitionists of the country, I think that you would find a majority of them in the church--certainly some of the most influential and efficient ones are ministers.
I am a minister's daughter, and a minister's wife, and I
have had six brothers in the ministry (one is in heaven); I certainly ought to
know something of the feelings of ministers on this subject. I was a child in
1820 when the
I well remember his prayers morning and evening in the
family for "poor, oppressed, bleeding
After all, my brother, the strength and hope of your oppressed race does lie in the church--in hearts united to Him of whom it is said, "He shall spare the souls of the needy, and precious shall their blood be in his sight." Everything is against you, but Jesus Christ is for you, and He has not forgotten his church, misguided and erring though it be. I have looked all the field over with despairing eyes; I see no hope but in Him. This movement must and will become a purely religious one. The light will spread in churches, the tone of feeling will rise, Christians North and South will give up all connection with, and take up their testimony against, slavery, and thus the work will be done.
This letter gives us a conception of the state of moral and religious exaltation of the heart and mind out of which flowed chapter after chapter of that wonderful story. It all goes to prove the correctness of the position from which we started, that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" came from the heart rather than the head. It was an outburst of deep feeling, a cry in the darkness. The writer no more thought of style or literary excellence than the mother who rushes into the street and cries for help to save her children from a burning house thinks of the teachings of the rhetorician or the elocutionist.
A few years afterwards Mrs. Stowe, writing of this story, said, "This story is to show how Jesus Christ, who liveth and was dead, and now is alive and forever-more, has still a mother's love for the poor and lowly, and that no man can sink so low but that Jesus Christ will stoop to take his hand. Who so low, who so poor, who so despised as the American slave? The law almost denies his existence as a person, and regards him for the most part as less than a man--a mere thing, the property of another. The law forbids him to read or write, to hold property, to make a contract, or even to form a legal marriage. It takes from him all legal right to the wife of his bosom, the children of his body. He can do nothing, possess nothing, acquire nothing, but what must belong to his master. Yet even to this slave Jesus Christ stoops, from where he sits at the right hand of the Father, and says, 'Fear not, thou whom man despiseth, for I am thy brother. Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine.'"
"Uncle Tom's Cabin" is a work of religion; the
fundamental principles of the gospel applied to the burning question of negro slavery. It sets forth those principles of the
Declaration of Independence that made Jefferson,
"Uncle Tom's Cabin" made the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law an impossibility. It aroused the public sentiment of the world by arousing in the concrete that which had been a mere series of abstract propositions. It was, as we have already said, an appeal to the imagination through a series of pictures. People are like children, and understand pictures better than words. Some one rushes into your dining-room while you are at breakfast and cries out, "Terrible railroad accident, forty killed and wounded, six were burned alive."
"Oh, shocking! dreadful!" you exclaim, and yet go quietly on with your rolls and coffee. But suppose you stood at that instant by the wreck, and saw the mangled dead, and heard the piercing shrieks of the wounded, you would be faint and dizzy with the intolerable spectacle.
So "Uncle Tom's Cabin" made the crack of the slavedriver's whip, and the cries of the tortured blacks ring in every household in the land, till human hearts could endure it no longer.
"UNCLE TOM'S CABIN" AS A SERIAL IN THE "NATIONAL ERA."--AN OFFER FOR ITS PUBLICATION IN BOOK FORM.--WILL IT BE A SUCCESS?--AN UNPRECEDENTED CIRCULATION.--CONGRATULATORY MESSAGES.--KIND WORDS FROM ABROAD.--MRS. STOWE TO THE EARL OF CARLISLE.--LETTERS FROM AND TO LORD SHAFTESBURY. --CORRESPONDENCE WITH ARTHUR HELPS.
The wonderful story that was begun in the "National
Era," June 5, 1851, and was announced to run for about three months, was
not completed in that paper until April 1, 1852. It had been contemplated as a
mere magazine tale of perhaps a dozen chapters, but once begun it could no more
be controlled than the waters of the swollen
Although the publication of the "National Era" has been long since suspended, the journal was in those days one of decided literary merit and importance. On its title-page, with the name of Dr. Gamaliel Bailey as editor, appeared that of John Greenleaf Whittier as corresponding editor. In its columns Mrs. Southworth made her first literary venture, while Alice and Phoebe Gary, Grace Greenwood, and a host of other well-known names were published with that of Mrs. Stowe, which appeared last of all in its prospectus for 1851.
Before the conclusion of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" Mrs. Stowe had so far outstripped her contemporaries that her work was pronounced by competent judges to be the most powerful production ever contributed to the magazine literature of this country, and she stood in the foremost rank of American writers.
After finishing her story Mrs. Stowe penned the following appeal to its more youthful readers, and its serial publication was concluded:--
"The author of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' must now take leave of a wide circle of friends whose faces she has never seen, but whose sympathies coming to her from afar have stimulated and cheered her in her work.
"The thought of the pleasant family circles that she has been meeting in spirit week after week has been a constant refreshment to her, and she cannot leave them without a farewell.
"In particular the dear children who have followed her story have her warmest love. Dear children, you will soon be men and women, and I hope that you will learn from this story always to remember and pity the poor and oppressed. When you grow up, show your pity by doing all you can for them. Never, if you can help it, let a colored child be shut out from school or treated with neglect and contempt on account of his color. Remember the sweet example of little Eva, and try to feel the same regard for all that she did. Then, when you grow up, I hope the foolish and unchristian prejudice against people merely on account of their complexion will be done away with.
"Farewell, dear children, until we meet again."
With the completion of the story the editor of the "Era" wrote: "Mrs. Stowe has at last brought her great work to a close. We do not recollect any production of an American writer that has excited more general and profound interest."
For the story as a serial the author received $300. In the
mean time, however, it had attracted the attention of Mr. John P. Jewett, a
Mrs. Stowe had no reason to hope for any large pecuniary gain from this publication, for it was practically her first book. To be sure, she had, in 1832, prepared a small school geography for a Western publisher, and ten years later the Harpers had brought out her "Mayflower." Still, neither of these had been sufficiently remunerative to cause her to regard literary work as a money-making business, and in regard to this new contract she writes: "I did not know until a week afterward precisely what terms Mr. Stowe had made, and I did not care. I had the most perfect indifference to the bargain."
The agreement was signed March 13, 1852, and, as by arrangement with the "National Era" the book publication of the story was authorized before its completion as a serial, the first edition of five thousand copies was issued on the twentieth of the same month.
In looking over the first semi-annual statement presented by
her publishers we find Mrs. Stowe charged, a few days before the date of publication
of her book, with "one
"After sending the last proof-sheet to the office I sat
alone reading Horace Mann's eloquent plea for these young men and women, then
about to be consigned to the slave warehouse of Bruin & Hill in Alexandria,
Va.,--a plea impassioned, eloquent, but vain, as all other pleas on that side
had ever proved in all courts hitherto. It seemed that there was no hope, that nobody would hear, nobody would read, nobody
pity; that this frightful system, that had already pursued its victims into the
Filled with this fear, she determined to do all that one
woman might to enlist the sympathies of England for the cause, and to avert,
even as a remote contingency, the closing of Canada as a haven of refuge for
the oppressed. To this end she at once wrote letters to
Then, having done what she could, and committed the result to God, she calmly turned her attention to other affairs.
In the mean time the fears of the author as to whether or not her book would be read were quickly dispelled. Three thousand copies were sold the very first day, a second edition was issued the following week, a third on the 1st of April, and within a year one hundred and twenty editions, or over three hundred thousand copies of the book, had been issued and sold in this country. Almost in a day the poor professor's wife had become the most talked-of woman in the world, her influence for good was spreading to its remotest corners, and henceforth she was to be a public character, whose every movement would be watched with interest, and whose every word would be quoted. The long, weary struggle with poverty was to be hers no longer; for, in seeking to aid the oppressed, she had also so aided herself that within four months from the time her book was published it had yielded her $10,000 in royalties.
Now letters regarding the wonderful book, and expressing all shades of opinion concerning it, began to pour in upon the author. Her lifelong friend, whose words we have already so often quoted, wrote:--
"I sat up last night until long after one o'clock reading and finishing 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' I could not leave it any more than I could have left a dying child, nor could I restrain an almost hysterical sobbing for an hour after I laid my head upon my pillow. I thought I was a thorough-going abolitionist before, but your book has awakened so strong a feeling of indignation and of compassion that I never seem to have had any feeling on this subject until now."
The poet Longfellow wrote:--
I congratulate you most cordially upon the immense success and influence of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." It is one of the greatest triumphs recorded in literary history, to say nothing of the higher triumph of its moral effect.
With great regard, and friendly remembrance to Mr. Stowe, I remain,
Yours most truly,
HENRY W. LONGFELLOW.
"What a glorious work Harriet Beecher Stowe has wrought. Thanks for the Fugitive Slave Law! Better would it be for slavery if that law had never been enacted; for it gave occasion for 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.'"
Garrison wrote to Mrs. Stowe:--
"I estimate the value of anti-slavery writing by the abuse it brings. Now all the defenders of slavery have let me alone and are abusing you."
To Mrs. Stowe,
Ten thousand thanks for thy immortal book. My young friend Mary Irving (of the "Era") writes me that she has been reading it to some twenty young ladies, daughters of Louisiana slaveholders, near New Orleans, and amid the scenes described in it, and that they, with one accord, pronounce it true.
Truly thy friend,
JOHN G. WHITTIER.
From Thomas Wentworth Higginson came the following:--
To have written at once the most powerful of contemporary fiction and the most efficient of anti-slavery tracts is a double triumph in literature and philanthropy, to which this country has heretofore seen no parallel.
Yours respectfully and gratefully,
T. W. HIGGINSON.
A few days after the publication of the book, Mrs. Stowe,
It is true that with these congratulatory and commendatory letters came hosts of others, threatening and insulting, from the Haleys and Legrees of the country.
Of them Mrs. Stowe said: "They were so curiously compounded of blasphemy, cruelty, and obscenity, that their like could only be expressed by John Bunyan's account of the speech of Apollyon: 'He spake as a dragon.'"
A correspondent of the "National Era" wrote: "'Uncle Tom's Cabin' is denounced by time-serving preachers as a meretricious work. Will you not come out in defense of it and roll back the tide of vituperation?"
To this the editor answered: "We should as soon think of coming out in defense of Shakespeare."
Several attempts were made in the South to write books
controverting "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and showing a much brighter side
of the slavery question, but they all fell flat and were left unread. Of one of
them, a clergyman of
"I have read two columns in the 'Southern Press' of Mrs. Eastman's 'Aunt Phillis' Cabin, or Southern Life as it is,' with the remarks of the editor. I have no comment to make on it, as that is done by itself. The editor might have saved himself being writ down an ass by the public if he had withheld his nonsense. If the two columns are a fair specimen of Mrs. Eastman's book, I pity her attempt and her name as an author."
In due time Mrs. Stowe began to receive answers to the
letters she had forwarded with copies of her book to prominent men in England,
and these were without exception flattering and encouraging. Through his
"I return my deep and solemn thanks to Almighty God who
has led and enabled you to write such a book. I do feel indeed the most
thorough assurance that in his good
To this letter, of which but an extract has been given, Mrs. Stowe sent the following reply:--
MY LORD,--It is not with the common pleasure of gratified
authorship that I say how much I am gratified by the receipt of your very kind
communication with regard to my humble efforts in the cause of humanity. The
subject is one so grave, so awful--the success of what I have written has been
so singular and so unexpected--that I can scarce retain a
self-consciousness and am constrained to look upon it all as the work of
a Higher Power, who, when He pleases, can accomplish his results by the
feeblest instruments. I am glad of anything which gives notoriety to the book,
because it is a plea for the dumb and the helpless! I am glad particularly of
I desire to inclose a tract [Footnote: Afterwards embodied
in the _Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin_.] in which I sketched down a few incidents in
the history of the family to which these girls belong; it will show more than
words can the kind of incident to which I allude. The tract is not a published
document, only _printed_ to assist me in raising money, and it would not, at
present, be for the good of the parties to have it published even in
But though these things are known in the
This year both our great leading parties voted to suppress all agitation of the subject, and in both those parties were men who knew personally facts of slavery and the internal slave-trade that one would think no man could ever forget. Men _united_ in pledging themselves to the Fugitive Slave Law, who yet would tell you in private conversation that it was an abomination, and who do not hesitate to say, that as a matter of practice they always help the fugitive because they _can't_ do otherwise.
The moral effect of this constant insincerity, the moral effect of witnessing and becoming accustomed to the most appalling forms of crime and oppression, is to me the most awful and distressing part of the subject. Nothing makes me feel it so painfully as to see with how much more keenness the English feel the disclosures of my book than the Americans. I myself am blunted by use--by seeing, touching, handling the details. In dealing even for the ransom of slaves, in learning market prices of men, women, and children, I feel that I acquire a horrible familiarity with evil.
Here, then, the great, wise, and powerful mind of
Your lordship will permit me to send you two of the most
characteristic documents of the present struggle, written by two men who are,
in their way, as eloquent for the slave as
I am now preparing some additional notes to my book, in
which I shall further confirm what I have said by facts and statistics, and in
particular by extracts from the _codes of slaveholding States_, and the
_records of their courts_. These are documents that cannot be disputed, and I
pray your lordship to give them your attention. No disconnected facts can be so terrible as these legal decisions. They will soon appear
It is so far from being irrelevant for
For a time after it was issued it seemed to go by
acclamation. From quarters the most unexpected, from all political parties,
came an almost unbroken chorus of approbation. I was very much surprised,
knowing the explosive nature of the subject. It was not till the sale had run
to over a hundred thousand copies that reaction began, and the reaction was led
off by the
All this has a meaning, but I think it comes too late. I can think of no reason why it was not tried sooner, excepting that God had intended that the cause should have a hearing. It is strange that they should have waited so long for the political effect of a book which they might have foreseen at first; but not strange that they should, now they _do_ see what it is doing, attempt to root it up.
The effects of the book so far have been, I think, these: 1st. To soften and moderate the bitterness of feeling in _extreme abolitionists_. 2d. To convert to abolitionist views many whom this same bitterness had repelled. 3d. To inspire the free colored people with self-respect, hope, and confidence. 4th. To inspire universally through the country a kindlier feeling toward the negro race.
It was unfortunate for the cause of freedom that the first agitators of this subject were of that class which your lordship describes in your note as "well-meaning men." I speak sadly of their faults, for they were men of noble hearts. "But oppression maketh a wise man mad" and they spoke and did many things in the frenzy of outraged humanity that repelled sympathy and threw multitudes off to a hopeless distance. It is mournful to think of all the absurdities that have been said and done in the name and for the sake of this holy cause, that have so long and so fatally retarded it.
I confess that I expected for myself nothing but abuse from extreme abolitionists, especially as I dared to name a forbidden shibboleth, "Liberia," and the fact that the wildest and extremest abolitionists united with the coldest conservatives, at first, to welcome and advance the book is a thing that I have never ceased to wonder at.
I have written this long letter because I am extremely
desirous that some leading minds in
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.
In December the Earl of Shaftesbury wrote to Mrs. Stowe:--
MADAM,-It is very possible that the writer of this letter may be wholly unknown to you. But whether my name be familiar to your ears, or whether you now read it for the first time, I cannot refrain from expressing to you the deep gratitude that I feel to Almighty God who has inspired both your heart and your head in the composition of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." None but a Christian believer could have produced such a book as yours, which has absolutely startled the whole world, and impressed many thousands by revelations of cruelty and sin that give us an idea of what would be the uncontrolled dominion of Satan on this fallen earth.
To this letter Mrs. Stowe replied as follows:--
To THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY:
_My Lord_,-The few lines I have received from you are a comfort and an encouragement to me, feeble as I now am in health, and pressed oftentimes with sorrowful thoughts.
It is a comfort to know that in other lands there are those who feel as we feel, and who are looking with simplicity to the gospel of Jesus, and prayerfully hoping his final coming.
My lord, before you wrote me I read with deep emotion your letter to the ladies of England, and subsequently the noble address of the Duchess of Sutherland, and I could not but feel that such movements, originating in such a quarter, prompted by a spirit so devout and benevolent, were truly of God, and must result in a blessing to the world.
I grieve to see that both in England and this country there are those who are entirely incapable of appreciating the Christian and truly friendly feeling that prompted this movement, and that there are even those who meet it with coarse personalities such as I had not thought possible in an English or American paper.
When I wrote my work it was in simplicity and in the love of Christ, and if I felt anything that seemed to me like a call to undertake it, it was this, that I had a true heart of love for the Southern people, a feeling appreciation of their trials, and a sincere admiration of their many excellent traits, and that I thus felt, I think, must appear to every impartial reader of the work.
It was my hope that a book so kindly intended, so favorable in many respects, might be permitted free circulation among them, and that the gentle voice of Eva and the manly generosity of St. Clare might be allowed to say those things of the system which would be invidious in any other form.
At first the book seemed to go by acclamation; the South did not condemn, and the North was loud and unanimous in praise; not a dissenting voice was raised; to my astonishment everybody praised. But when the book circulated so widely and began to penetrate the Southern States, when it began to be perceived how powerfully it affected every mind that read it, there came on a reaction.
Answers, pamphlets, newspaper attacks came thick and fast, and certain Northern papers, religious,--so called,--turned and began to denounce the work as unchristian, heretical, etc. The reason of all this is that it has been seen that the book has a direct tendency to do what it was written for,--to awaken conscience in the slaveholding States and lead to emancipation.
Now there is nothing that Southern political leaders and capitalists so dread as anti-slavery feeling among themselves. All the force of lynch law is employed to smother discussion and blind conscience on this question. The question is not allowed to be discussed, and he who sells a book or publishes a tract makes himself liable to fine and imprisonment.
My book is, therefore, as much under an interdict in some
parts of the South as the Bible is in
A cousin residing in Georgia this winter says that the prejudice against my name is so strong that she dares not have it appear on the outside of her letters, and that very amiable and excellent people have asked her if such as I could be received into reputable society at the North.
Under these circumstances, it is a matter of particular regret that the "New York Observer," an old and long-established religious paper in the United States, extensively read at the South, should have come out in such a bitter and unscrupulous style of attack as even to induce some Southern papers, with a generosity one often finds at the South, to protest against it.
That they should use their Christian character and the sacred name of Christ still further to blind the minds and strengthen the prejudices of their Southern brethren is to me a matter of deepest sorrow. All those things, of course, cannot touch me in my private capacity, sheltered as I am by a happy home and very warm friends. I only grieve for it as a dishonor to Christ and a real injustice to many noble-minded people at the South, who, if they were allowed quietly and dispassionately to hear and judge, might be led to the best results.
But, my lord, all this only shows us how strong is the interest we touch. _All the wealth of America_ may be said to be interested in it. And, if I may judge from the furious and bitter tone of some English papers, they also have some sensitive connection with the evil.
I trust that those noble and gentle ladies of
Nay, the storm of feeling which the book raises in
I am now writing a work to be called "Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin." It contains, in an undeniable form, the facts which corroborate all that I have said. One third of it is taken up with judicial records of trials and decisions, and with statute law. It is a most fearful story, my lord,---I can truly say that I write with life-blood, but as called of God. I give in my evidence, and I hope that England may so fix the attention of the world on the facts of which I am the unwilling publisher, that the Southern States may be compelled to notice what hitherto they have denied and ignored. If they call the fiction dreadful, what will they say of the fact, where I cannot deny, suppress, or color? But it is God's will that it must be told, and I am the unwilling agent.
This coming month of April, my husband and myself expect to sail for
There are points where English people can do much good;
there are also points where what they seek to do may be made more efficient by
a little communion with those who know the feelings and habits of our
countrymen: but I am persuaded that
My lord, they greatly mistake who see, in this movement of
English Christians for the abolition of slavery, signs of disunion between the
nations. It is the purest and best proof of friendship
Mrs. Stowe also received a letter from Arthur Helps
[Footnote: Author of _Spanish Conquest in America_.--ED.] Accompanying a review
of her work written by himself and published in
"Fraser's Magazine." In his letter Mr. Helps took exception to the
comparison instituted in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" between the
MR. ARTHUR HELPS: _My dear Sir_,--I cannot but say I am greatly obliged to you for the kind opinions expressed in your letter. On one point, however, it appears that my book has not faithfully represented to you the feelings of my heart. I mean in relation to the English nation as a nation. You will notice that the remarks on that subject occur in the _dramatic_ part of the book, in the mouth of an intelligent Southerner. As a fair-minded person, bound to state for both sides all that could be said in the person of St. Clare, the best that could be said on that point, and what I know _is_ in fact constantly reiterated, namely, that the laboring class of the South are in many respects, as to physical comfort, in a better condition than the poor of England.
This is the slaveholder's stereotyped apology,--a defense it cannot be, unless two wrongs make one right.
It is generally supposed among us that this estimate of the
relative condition of the slaves and the poor of
I do not suppose _human nature_ to be widely different in
There was the same kind of resistance in certain quarters there to the laws restricting the employing of young children eighteen hours a day in factories, as there is here to the anti-slavery effort.
For my own part, I am proud to be of English blood; and
though I do not think England's national course faultless, and though I think
many of her institutions and arrangements capable of much revision and
improvement, yet my heart warms to her as, on the whole, the strongest,
greatest, and best nation on earth. Have not
Sincerely yours, H. B. STOWE.
THE EDMONDSONS.--BUYING SLAVES TO SET THEM FREE.--JENNY LIND.--PROFESSOR STOWE is CALLED TO ANDOVER.--FITTING UP THE NEW HOME.--THE "KEY TO UNCLE TOM'S CABIN."--"UNCLE TOM" ABROAD.--HOW IT WAS PUBLISHED IN ENGLAND.--PREFACE TO THE EUROPEAN EDITION.--THE BOOK IN FRANCE.--IN GERMANY.--A GREETING FROM CHARLES KINGSLEY.--PREPARING TO VISIT SCOTLAND.--LETTER TO MRS. FOLLEN.
Very soon after the publication of "Uncle Tom's
Cabin" Mrs. Stowe visited her brother Henry in Brooklyn, and while there
became intensely interested in the case of the Edmondsons, a slave family of
Washington, D.C. Emily and Mary two of the daughters of Paul (a free colored
man) and Milly (a slave) Edmondson, had, for trying to escape from bondage,
been sold to a trader for the New Orleans market. While they were lying in jail
There Mr. Beecher found him, learned his story, and promised
to do what he could. There was a great meeting in
All this had happened in the latter part of 1848, and Mrs. Stowe had first known of the liberated girls in 1851, when she had been appealed to for aid in educating them. From that time forward she became personally responsible for all their expenses while they remained in school, and until the death of one of them in 1853.
Now during her visit to New York in the spring of 1852 she
met their old mother, Milly Edmondson, who had come North in the hope of saving
her two remaining slave children, a girl and a young man, from falling into the
trader's clutches. Twelve hundred dollars was the sum to be raised, and by hard
work the father had laid by one hundred of it when a severe illness put an end
to his efforts. After many prayers and much consideration of the matter, his
feeble old wife said to him one day, "Paul, I'm a gwine up to
Her husband objected that she was too feeble, that she would
be unable to find her way, and that Northern people had got tired of buying
slaves to set them free, but the resolute old woman clung to her purpose and
finally set forth. Beaching
"The mother of the Edmondson girls, now aged and feeble, is in the city. I did not actually know when I wrote 'Uncle Tom' of a living example in which Christianity had reached its fullest development under the crushing wrongs of slavery, but in this woman I see it. I never knew before what I could feel till, with her sorrowful, patient eyes upon me, she told me her history and begged my aid. The expression of her face as she spoke, and the depth of patient sorrow in her eyes, was beyond anything I ever saw.
"'Well,' said I, when she had finished, 'set your heart at rest; you and your children shall be redeemed. If I can't raise the money otherwise, I will pay it myself.' You should have seen the wonderfully sweet, solemn look she gave me as she said, 'The Lord bless you, my child!'
"Well, I have received a sweet note from Jenny Lind,
with her name and her husband's with which to head my subscription list. They
give a hundred dollars. Another hundred is subscribed by Mr. Bowen in his
wife's name, and I have put my own name down for an equal amount. A lady has
given me twenty-five dollars, and Mr. Storrs has pledged me fifty dollars.
Milly and I are to meet the ladies of Henry's and Dr. Cox's churches tomorrow,
and she is to tell them her story. I have written to Drs. Bacon and Button in
"But all this time I have been so longing to get your
"Had a very kind note from A. Lawrence inclosing a twenty-dollar gold-piece for the Edmondsons. Isabella's ladies gave me twenty-five dollars, so you see our check is more than paid already."
Although during her visit in New York Mrs. Stowe made many new friends, and was overwhelmed with congratulations and praise of her book, the most pleasing incident of this time seems to have been an epistolatory interview with Jenny Lind (Goldschmidt). In writing of it to her husband she says:--
"Well, we have heard Jenny Lind, and the affair was a bewildering dream of sweetness and beauty. Her face and movements are full of poetry and feeling. She has the artless grace of a little child, the poetic effect of a wood-nymph, is airy, light, and graceful.
"We had first-rate seats, and how do you think we got them? When Mr. Howard went early in the morning for tickets, Mr. Goldschmidt told him it was impossible to get any good ones, as they were all sold. Mr. Howard said he regretted that, on Mrs. Stowe's account, as she was very desirous of hearing Jenny Lind. 'Mrs. Stowe!' exclaimed Mr. Goldschmidt, 'the author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin"? Indeed, she shall have a seat whatever happens!'
"Thereupon he took his hat and went out, returning shortly with tickets for two of the best seats in the house, inclosed in an envelope directed to me in his wife's handwriting. Mr. Howard said he could have sold those tickets at any time during the day for ten dollars each.
"Today I sent a note of acknowledgment with a copy of my book. I am most happy to have seen her, for she is a noble creature."
To this note the great singer wrote in answer:--
MY DEAR MADAM,--Allow me to express my sincere thanks for your very kind letter, which I was very happy to receive.
You must feel and know what a deep impression "Uncle Tom's Cabin" has made upon every heart that can feel for the dignity of human existence: so I with my miserable English would not even try to say a word about the great excellency of that most beautiful book, but I must thank you for the great joy I have felt over that book.
Forgive me, my dear madam: it is a great liberty I take in thus addressing you, I know, but I have so wished to find an opportunity to pour out my thankfulness in a few words to you that I cannot help this intruding. I have the feeling about "Uncle Tom's Cabin" that great changes will take place by and by, from the impression people receive out of it, and that the writer of that book can fall asleep today or tomorrow with the bright, sweet conscience of having been a strong means in the Creator's hand of operating essential good in one of the most important questions for the welfare of our black brethren. God bless and protect you and yours, dear madam, and certainly God's hand will remain with a blessing over your head.
Once more forgive my bad English and the liberty I have taken, and believe me to be, dear madam,
Yours most truly, JENNY GOLDSCHMIDT, _née_ LIND.
In answer to Mrs. Stowe's appeal on behalf of the Edmonsons, Jenny Lind wrote:--
MY DEAR MRS. STOWE,--I have with great interest read your
statement of the black family at
The time is short. I am very, very sorry that I shall not be able to _see_ you. I must say farewell to you in this way. Hoping that in the length of time you may live to witness the progression of the good sake for which you so nobly have fought, my best wishes go with you. Yours in friendship,
While Mrs. Stowe was thus absent from home, her husband
received and accepted a most urgent call to the Professorship of Sacred
Literature in the Theological Seminary at
In regard to leaving
As Professor Stowe's engagements necessitated his spending
much of the summer in
The summer spent in preparing this home was one of great
pleasure as well as literary activity. In July Mrs. Stowe writes to her
husband: "I had no idea this place was so beautiful. Our family circle is
charming. All the young men are so gentlemanly and so agreeable, as well as
Christian in spirit. Mr. Dexter, his wife, and sister are delightful. Last
evening a party of us went to ride on horseback down to Pomp's Pond. What a
beautiful place it is! There is everything here that there is at
"It seems almost too good to be true that we are going to have such a house in such a beautiful place, and to live here among all these agreeable people, where everybody seems to love you so much and to think so much of you. I am almost afraid to accept it, and should not, did I not see the Hand that gives it all and know that it is both firm and true. He knows if it is best for us, and His blessing addeth no sorrow therewith. I cannot describe to you the constant undercurrent of love and joy and peace ever flowing through my soul. I am so happy --so blessed!"
The literary work of this summer was directed toward preparing articles on many subjects for the "New York Independent" and the "National Era," as well as collecting material for future books. That the "Pearl of Orr's Island," which afterward appeared as a serial in the "Independent," was already contemplated, is shown by a letter written July 29th, in which Mrs. Stowe says: "What a lovely place Andover is! So many beautiful walks! Last evening a number of us climbed Prospect Hill, and had a most charming walk. Since I came here we have taken up hymn-singing to quite an extent, and while we were all up on the hill we sang 'When I can read my title clear.' It went finely.
[Illustration: THE ANDOVER HOME]
"I seem to have so much to fill my time, and yet there
"To-day Mrs. Jewett sent out a most solemnly savage attack upon me from the 'Alabama Planter.' Among other things it says: 'The plan for assaulting the best institutions in the world may be made just as rational as it is by the wicked (perhaps unconsciously so) authoress of this book. The woman who wrote it must be either a very bad or a very fanatical person. For her own domestic peace we trust no enemy will ever penetrate into her household to pervert the scenes he may find there with as little logic or kindness as she has used in her "Uncle Tom's Cabin." There's for you! Can you wonder now that such a wicked woman should be gone from you a full month instead of the week I intended? Ah, welladay!"
At last the house was finished, the removal from
"I am now very much driven. I am preparing a Key to unlock 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' It will contain all the original facts, anecdotes, and documents on which the story is founded, with some very interesting and affecting stories parallel to those told of Uncle Tom. Now I want you to write for me just what you heard that slave-buyer say, exactly as he said it, that people may compare it with what I have written. My Key will be stronger than the Cabin."
In regard to this "Key" Mrs. Stowe also wrote to the Duchess of Sutherland upon hearing that she had headed an address from the women of England to those of America:--
It is made up of the facts, the documents, the things which my own eyes have looked upon and my hands have handled, that attest this awful indictment upon my country. I write it in the anguish of my soul, with tears and prayer, with sleepless nights and weary days. I bear my testimony with a heavy heart, as one who in court is forced by an awful oath to disclose the sins of those dearest.
So I am called to draw up this fearful witness against my country and send it into all countries, that the general voice of humanity may quicken our paralyzed vitality, that all Christians may pray for us, and that shame, honor, love of country, and love of Christ may be roused to give us strength to cast out this mighty evil. Yours for the oppressed, H. B. STOWE.
This harassing, brain-wearying, and heart-sickening labor
was continued until the first of April, 1853, when, upon invitation of the
Anti-Slavery Society of Glasgow, Scotland, Mrs. Stowe, accompanied by her husband
and her brother, Charles Beecher, sailed for
In the mean time the success of "Uncle Tom's
Cabin" abroad was already phenomenal and unprecedented. From the pen of
Mr. Sampson Low, the well-known
"The first edition printed in
"Vizetelly at once put the volume into the hands of a
friendly printer and brought it out on his own account, through the nominal
agency of Clarke &
"After carefully analyzing these editions and weighing
probabilities with ascertained facts, I am able pretty confidently to say that
the aggregate number of copies circulated in
A similar statement made by Clarke & Co. in October,
1852, reveals the following facts. It says: "An early copy was sent from
"Mr. Vizetelly's opinion coincided with that of Mr. Salisbury, and to the latter gentleman it was confided to be brought out immediately. The week following the book was produced and one edition of 7,000 copies worked off. It made no stir until the middle of June, although we advertised it very extensively. From June it began to make its way, and it sold at the rate of 1,000 per week during July. In August the demand became very great, and went on increasing to the 20th, by which time it was perfectly overwhelming. We have now about 400 people employed in getting out the book, and seventeen printing machines besides hand presses. Already about 150,000 copies of the book are in the hands of the people, and still the returns of sales show no decline."
The story was dramatized in the
While the English editions of the story were rapidly multiplying, and being issued with illustrations by Cruikshank, introductions by Elihu Burritt, Lord Carlisle, etc., it was also making its way over the Continent. For the authorized French edition, translated by Madame Belloc, and published by Charpentier of Paris, Mrs. Stowe wrote the following:--
PREFACE TO THE EUROPEAN EDITION.
In authorizing the circulation of this work on the Continent of Europe, the author has only this apology, that the love of _man_ is higher than the love of country. The great mystery which all Christian nations hold in common, the union of God with man through the humanity of Jesus Christ, invests human existence with an awful sacredness; and in the eye of the true believer in Jesus, he who tramples on the rights of his meanest fellow-man is not only inhuman but sacrilegious, and the worst form of this sacrilege is the institution of _slavery_.
It has been said that the representations of this book are exaggerations! and oh, _would_ that this were true! Would that this book were indeed a fiction, and not a close mosaic of facts! But that it is not a fiction the proofs lie bleeding in thousands of hearts; they have been attested by surrounding voices from almost every slave State, and from slave-owners themselves. Since so it must be, thanks be to God that this mighty cry, this wail of an unutterable anguish, has at last been heard!
It has been said, and not in utter despair but in solemn
hope and assurance may we regard the struggle that now convulses
It cannot be that so monstrous a solecism can long exist in the bosom of a nation which in all respects is the best exponent of the great principle of universal brotherhood. In America the Frenchman, the German, the Italian, the Swede, and the Irish all mingle on terms of equal right; all nations there display their characteristic excellences and are admitted by her liberal laws to equal privileges: everything is tending to liberalize, humanize, and elevate, and for that very reason it is that the contest with slavery there grows every year more terrible.
The stream of human progress, widening, deepening, strengthening from the confluent forces of all nations, meets this barrier, behind which is concentrated all the ignorance, cruelty, and oppression of the dark ages, and it roars and foams and shakes the barrier, and anon it must bear it down.
In its commencement slavery overspread every State in the
The time cannot be distant when these States will emancipate for self-preservation; and if no new slave territory be added, the increase of slave population in the remainder will enforce measures of emancipation.
Here, then, is the point of the battle. Unless more slave territory is gained, slavery dies; if it is gained, it lives. Around this point political parties fight and manoeuvre, and every year the battle wages hotter.
The internal struggles of no other nation in the world are so interesting to Europeans as those of
If, therefore, the oppressed of other nations desire to find
True are the great words of Kossuth: "No nation can remain free with whom freedom is a _privilege_ and not a principle."
This preface was more or less widely copied in the twenty translations of the book that quickly followed its first appearance. These, arranged in the alphabetical order of their languages, are as follows: Armenian, Bohemian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Flemish, French, German, Hungarian, Illyrian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romaic or modern Greek, Russian, Servian, Spanish, Wallachian, and Welsh.
Madame George Sand reviewed the book, and spoke of Mrs. Stowe herself in words at once appreciative and discriminating: "Mrs. Stowe is all instinct; it is the very reason she appears to some not to have talent. Has she not talent? What is talent? Nothing, doubtless, compared to genius; but has she genius? She has genius as humanity feels the need of genius,--the genius of goodness, not that of the man of letters, but that of the saint."
Charles Sumner wrote from the senate chamber at
From Eversley parsonage Charles Kingsley wrote to Mrs. Stowe:--
A thousand thanks for your delightful letter. As for your
progress and ovation here in
I have many a story to tell you when we meet about the effects of the great book upon the most unexpected people.
Yours ever faithfully,
March 28, 1853, Professor Stowe sent the following
communication to the Committee of Examination of the Theological Seminary at
This offer, coming as it did from the friends of the cause
of emancipation in the
The preceding month Mrs. Stowe had received a letter from
Mrs. Follen in
In reply Mrs. Stowe sent the following very characteristic letter, which may be safely given at the risk of some repetition:--
MY DEAR MADAM,--I hasten to reply to your letter, to me the more interesting that I have long been acquainted with you, and during all the nursery part of my life made daily use of your poems for children.
I used to think sometimes in those days that I would write to you, and tell you how much I was obliged to you for the pleasure which they gave us all.
So you want to know something about what sort of a woman I am! Well, if this is any object, you shall have statistics free of charge. To begin, then, I am a little bit of a woman,--somewhat more than forty, about as thin and dry as a pinch of snuff; never very much to look at in my best days, and looking like a used-up article now.
I was married when I was twenty-five years old to a man rich in Greek and Hebrew, Latin and Arabic, and, alas! rich in nothing else. When I went to house-keeping, my entire stock of china for parlor and kitchen was bought for eleven dollars. That lasted very well for two years, till my brother was married and brought his bride to visit me. I then found, on review, that I had neither plates nor teacups to set a table for my father's family; wherefore I thought it best to reinforce the establishment by getting me a tea-set that cost ten dollars more, and this, I believe, formed my whole stock in trade for some years.
But then I was abundantly enriched with wealth of another sort.
I had two little, curly-headed twin daughters to begin with, and my stock in this line has gradually increased, till I have been the mother of seven children, the most beautiful and the most loved of whom lies buried near my Cincinnati residence. It was at his dying bed and at his grave that I learned what a poor slave mother may feel when her child is torn away from her. In those depths of sorrow which seemed to me immeasurable, it was my only prayer to God that such anguish might not be suffered in vain. There were circumstances about his death of such peculiar bitterness, of what seemed almost cruel suffering, that I felt that I could never be consoled for it, unless this crushing of my own heart might enable me to work out some great good to others. . . . I allude to this here because I have often felt that much that is in that book ("Uncle Tom") had its root in the awful scenes and bitter sorrows of that summer. It has left now, I trust, no trace on my mind, except a deep compassion for the sorrowful, especially for mothers who are separated from their children.
During long years of struggling with poverty and sickness, and a hot, debilitating climate, my children grew up around me. The nursery and the kitchen were my principal fields of labor. Some of my friends, pitying my trials, copied and sent a number of little sketches from my pen to certain liberally paying "Annuals" with my name. With the first money that I earned in this way I bought a feather-bed! for as I had married into poverty and without a dowry, and as my husband had only a large library of books and a great deal of learning, the bed and pillows were thought the most profitable investment. After this I thought that I had discovered the philosopher's stone. So when a new carpet or mattress was going to be needed, or when, at the close of the year, it began to be evident that my family accounts, like poor Dora's, "wouldn't add up," then I used to say to my faithful friend and factotum Anna, who shared all my joys and sorrows, "Now, if you will keep the babies and attend to the things in the house for one day, I'll write a piece, and then we shall be out of the scrape." So I became an author,--very modest at first, I do assure you, and remonstrating very seriously with the friends who had thought it best to put my name to the pieces by way of getting up a reputation; and if you ever see a woodcut of me, with an immoderately long nose, on the cover of all the U.S. Almanacs, I wish you to take notice, that I have been forced into it contrary to my natural modesty by the imperative solicitations of my dear five thousand friends and the public generally. One thing I must say with regard to my life at the West, which you will understand better than many English women could.
I lived two miles from the city of Cincinnati, in the country, and domestic service, not always you know to be found in the city, is next to an impossibility to obtain in the country, even by those who are willing to give the highest wages; so what was to be expected for poor me, who had very little of this world's goods to offer?
Had it not been for my inseparable friend Anna, a noble-hearted English girl, who landed on our shores in destitution and sorrow, and clave to me as Ruth to Naomi, I had never lived through all the trials which this uncertainty and want of domestic service imposed on both: you may imagine, therefore, how glad I was when, our seminary property being divided out into small lots which were rented at a low price, a number of poor families settled in our vicinity, from whom we could occasionally obtain domestic service. About a dozen families of liberated slaves were among the number, and they became my favorite resort in cases of emergency. If anybody wishes to have a black face look handsome, let them be left, as I have been, in feeble health in oppressive hot weather, with a sick baby in arms, and two or three other little ones in the nursery, and not a servant in the whole house to do a single turn. Then, if they could see my good old Aunt Frankie coming with her honest, bluff, black face, her long, strong arms, her chest as big and stout as a barrel, and her hilarious, hearty laugh, perfectly delighted to take one's washing and do it at a fair price, they would appreciate the beauty of black people.
My cook, poor Eliza Buck,--how she would stare to think of
her name going to England!--was a regular epitome of slave life in herself;
fat, gentle, easy, loving and lovable, always calling my very modest house and
door-yard "The Place," as if it had been a plantation with seven
hundred hands on it. She had lived through the whole sad story of a
Virginia-raised slave's life. In her youth she must have been a very handsome
mulatto girl. Her voice was sweet, and her manners refined and agreeable. She
was raised in a good family as a nurse and seamstress. When the family became
embarrassed, she was suddenly sold on to a plantation in
You ask with regard to the remuneration which I have
received for my work here in
I have been invited to visit
I have very much at heart a design to erect in some of the
Northern States a normal school, for the education of colored teachers in the
I am now writing a work which will contain, perhaps, an equal amount of matter with "Uncle Tom's Cabin." It will contain all the facts and documents on which that story was founded, and an immense body of facts, reports of trials, legal documents, and testimony of people now living South, which will more than confirm every statement in "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
I must confess that till I began the examination of facts in order to write this book, much as I thought I knew before, I had not begun to measure the depth of the abyss. The law records of courts and judicial proceedings are so incredible as to fill me with amazement whenever I think of them. It seems to me that the book cannot but be felt, and, coming upon the sensibility awaked by the other, do something.
I suffer exquisitely in writing these things. It may be truly said that I write with my heart's blood. Many times in writing "Uncle Tom's Cabin" I thought my health would fail utterly; but I prayed earnestly that God would help me till I got through, and still I am pressed beyond measure and above strength.
This horror, this nightmare abomination! can
it be in my country! It lies like lead on my heart, it shadows my life with
sorrow; the more so that I feel, as for my own brothers, for the South, and am
pained by every horror I am obliged to write, as one who is forced by some
awful oath to disclose in court some family disgrace. Many times I have thought
that I must die, and yet I pray God that I may live to see something done. I
shall in all probability be in
It seems to me so odd and dream-like that so many persons desire to see me, and now I cannot help thinking that they will think, when they do, that God hath chosen "the weak things of this world."
If I live till spring I shall hope to see Shakespeare's
Yours affectionately, H. B. STOWE.
CROSSING THE ATLANTIC.--ARRIVAL IN
ENGLAND.--RECEPTION IN LIVERPOOL.--WELCOME TO SCOTLAND.--A
The journey undertaken by Mrs. Stowe with her husband and
Fortunately an unbroken record of this memorable journey, in Mrs. Stowe's own words, has been preserved, and we are thus able to receive her own impressions of what she saw, heard, and did, under circumstances that were at once pleasant, novel, and embarrassing. Beginning with her voyage, she writes as follows:--
MY DEAR CHILDREN,--You wish, first of all, to hear of the voyage. Let me assure you, my dears, in the very commencement of the matter, that going to sea is not at all the thing that we have taken it to be. Let me warn you, if you ever go to sea, to omit all preparations for amusement on shipboard. Don't leave so much as the unlocking of a trunk to be done after sailing. In the few precious minutes when the ship stands still, before she weighs her anchor, set your house, that is to say your stateroom, as much in order as if you were going to be hanged; place everything in the most convenient position to be seized without trouble at a moment's notice; for be sure that in half an hour after sailing, an infinite desperation will seize you, in which the grasshopper will be a burden. If anything is in your trunk, it might almost as well be in the sea, for any practical probability of your getting to it.
Our voyage out was called "a good run." It was voted unanimously to be "an extraordinary good passage," "a pleasant voyage;" yet the ship rocked the whole time from side to side with a steady, dizzy, continuous motion, like a great cradle. I had a new sympathy for babies, poor little things, who are rocked hours at a time without so much as a "by your leave" in the case. No wonder there are so many stupid people in the world!
We arrived on Sunday morning: the custom-house officers, very gentlemanly men, came on board; our luggage was all set out, and passed through a rapid examination, which in many cases amounted only to opening the trunk and shutting it, and all was over. The whole ceremony did not occupy two hours.
We were inquiring of some friends for the most convenient hotel, when we found the son of Mr. Cropper, of Dingle Bank, waiting in the cabin to take us with him to their hospitable abode. In a few moments after the baggage had been examined, we all bade adieu to the old ship, and went on board the little steam tender which carries passengers up to the city.
"What does make this river so muddy?"
"Oh," says a by-stander, "don't you know that
"'The quality of mercy is not strained'?"
I had an early opportunity of making acquaintance with my English brethren; for, much to my astonishment, I found quite a crowd on the wharf, and we walked up to our carriage through a long lane of people, bowing, and looking very glad to see us.
When I came to get into the hack it was surrounded by more faces than I could count. They stood very quietly, and looked very kindly, though evidently very much determined to look. Something prevented the hack from moving on; so the interview was prolonged for some time.
Our carriage at last drove on, taking us through Liverpool
and a mile or two out, and at length wound its way along the gravel paths of a
beautiful little retreat, on the banks of the
After a short season allotted to changing our ship garments and for rest, we found ourselves seated at the dinner table. While dining, the sister-in-law of our friends came in from the next door, to exchange a word or two of welcome, and invite us to breakfast with them the following morning.
The next morning we slept late and hurried to dress, remembering our engagement to breakfast with the brother of our host, whose cottage stands on the same ground, within a few steps of our own. I had not the slightest idea of what the English mean by a breakfast, and therefore went in all innocence, supposing I should see nobody but the family circle of my acquaintances. Quite to my astonishment, I found a party of between thirty and forty people; ladies sitting with their bonnets on, as in a morning call. It was impossible, however, to feel more than a momentary embarrassment in the friendly warmth and cordiality of the circle by whom we were surrounded.
In the evening I went into
The next day was appointed to leave
"Dear me!" said Mr. S.; "six Yankees shut up in a car together! Not one Englishman to tell us anything about the country! Just like the six old ladies that made their living by taking tea at each other's houses!"
What a bright lookout we kept for ruins and old houses! Mr. S., whose eyes are always in every place, allowed none of us to slumber, but looking out, first on his own side and then on ours, called our attention to every visible thing. If he had been appointed on a mission of inquiry, he could not have been more zealous and faithful, and I began to think that our desire for an English cicerone was quite superfluous.
Well, we are in
"Take care," said Mr. S.; "don't get too much excited."
"Ah," said I, "this is a thing that comes
only once in a lifetime; do let us have the comfort of it. We shall never come
While we were thus at the fusion point of enthusiasm, the
cars stopped at Lockerbie. All was dim and dark outside, but we soon became
conscious that there was quite a number of people collected, peering into the
window; and with a strange kind of thrill, I heard my name inquired for in the
Scottish accent. I went to the window; there were men, women, and children
gathered, and hand after hand was presented, with the words, "Ye're
Then they inquired for and shook hands with all the party,
having in some mysterious manner got the knowledge of who they were, even down
to little G., whom they took to be my son. Was it not pleasant, when I had a
heart so warm for this old country? I shall never forget the thrill of those
words, "Ye're welcome to
After that we found similar welcomes in many succeeding
stopping-places; and though I did wave a towel out of the window, instead of a
pocket handkerchief, and commit other awkwardnesses, from not knowing how to
play my part, yet I fancied, after all, that
I looked out of the carriage, as we drove on, and saw, by
the light of a lantern,
The next morning I awoke worn and weary, and scarce could the charms of the social Scotch breakfast restore me.
Our friend and host was Mr. Bailie Paton. I believe that it
is to his suggestion in a public meeting that we owe the invitation which
brought us to
After breakfast the visiting began. First, a friend of the family, with three beautiful children, the youngest of whom was the bearer of a handsomely bound album, containing a pressed collection of the sea-mosses of the Scottish coast, very vivid and beautiful.
All this day is a confused dream to me of a dizzy and overwhelming kind. So many letters that it took brother Charles from nine in the morning till two in the afternoon to read and answer them in the shortest manner; letters from all classes of people, high and low, rich and poor, in all shades and styles of composition, poetry and prose; some mere outbursts of feeling; some invitations; some advice and suggestions; some requests and inquiries; some presenting books, or flowers, or fruit.
Then came, in their turn, deputations from Paisley,
Greenock, Dundee, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Belfast in Ireland; calls of
friendship, invitations of all descriptions to go everywhere, and to see everything,
and to stay in so many places. One kind, venerable minister, with his lovely
daughter, offered me a retreat in his quiet manse on the beautiful shores of
For all these kindnesses, what could I give in return? There was scarce time for even a grateful thought on each. People have often said to me that it must have been an exceeding bore. For my part, I could not think of regarding it so. It only oppressed me with an unutterable sadness.
In the afternoon I rode out with the lord provost to see the
cathedral. The lord provost answers to the lord mayor in
As I saw the way to the cathedral blocked up by a throng of people who had come out to see me, I could not help saying, "What went ye out for to see? a reed shaken with the wind?" In fact I was so worn out that I could hardly walk through the building. The next morning I was so ill as to need a physician, unable to see any one that called, or to hear any of the letters. I passed most of the day in bed, but in the evening I had to get up, as I had engaged to drink tea with two thousand people. Our kind friends, Dr. and Mrs. Wardlaw, came after us, and Mr. S. and I went in the carriage with them. Our carriage stopped at last at the place. I have a dim remembrance of a way being made for us through a great crowd all round the house, and of going with Mrs. Wardlaw up into a dressing-room where I met and shook hands with many friendly people. Then we passed into a gallery, where a seat was reserved for our party, directly in front of the audience. Our friend Bailie Paton presided. Mrs. Wardlaw and I sat together, and around us many friends, chiefly ministers of the different churches, the ladies and gentlemen of the Glasgow Anti-Slavery Society and others. I told you it was a tea-party; but the arrangements were altogether different from any I had ever seen. There were narrow tables stretched up and down the whole extent of the great hall, and every person had an appointed seat. These tables were set out with cups and saucers, cakes, biscuit, etc., and when the proper time came, attendants passed along serving tea. The arrangements were so accurate and methodical that the whole multitude actually took tea together, without the least apparent inconvenience or disturbance.
There was a gentle, subdued murmur of conversation all over
the house, the sociable clinking of teacups and teaspoons, while the
entertainment was going on. It seemed to me such an odd idea, I could not help
wondering what sort of a teapot that must be in which all this tea for two
thousand people was made. Truly, as Hadji Baba says, I think they must have had
the "father of all the tea-kettles" to boil it in. I could not help
wondering if old mother
We had quite a sociable time up in our gallery. Our tea-table stretched quite across, and we drank tea in sight of all the people. By _we_, I mean a great number of ministers and their wives, and ladies of the Anti-Slavery society, besides our party, and the friends whom I have mentioned before. All seemed to be enjoying themselves.
After tea they sang a few verses of the seventy-second psalm in the old Scotch version.
_April_ 17. To-day a large party of
us started on a small steamer to go down the
Somewhere about here I was presented, by his own request, to a broad-shouldered Scotch farmer, who stood some six feet two, and who paid me the compliment to say that he had read my book, and that he would walk sis miles to see me any day. Such a flattering evidence of discriminating taste, of course, disposed my heart towards him; but when I went up and put my hand into his great prairie of a palm, I was as a grasshopper in my own eyes. I inquired who he was and was told he was one of the Duke of Argyll's farmers. I thought to myself if all the duke's farmers were of this pattern, that he might be able to speak to the enemy in the gates to some purpose.
It was concluded after we left Roseneath that, instead of returning by the boat, we should take carriage and ride home along the banks of the river. In our carriage were Mr. S. and myself, Dr. Robson, and Lady Anderson. About this time I commenced my first essay towards giving titles, and made, as you may suppose, rather an odd piece of work of it, generally saying "Mrs." first, and "Lady" afterwards, and then begging pardon. Lady Anderson laughed and said she would give me a general absolution. She is a truly genial, hearty Scotchwoman, and seemed to enter happily into the spirit of the hour.
As we rode on, we found that the news of our coming had spread through the village. People came and stood in their doors, beckoning, bowing, smiling, and waving their handkerchiefs, and the carriage was several times stopped by persons who came to offer flowers. I remember, in particular, a group of young girls bringing to the carriage two of the most beautiful children I ever saw, whose little hands literally deluged us with flowers.
We rode through several villages after this, and met everywhere a warm welcome. What pleased me was, that it was not mainly from the literary, nor the rich, nor the great, but the plain, common people. The butcher came out of his stall and the baker from his shop, the miller dusty with flour, the blooming, comely young mother, with her baby in her arms, all smiling and bowing, with that hearty, intelligent, friendly look, as if they knew we should be glad to see them.
Once, while we stopped to change horses, I, for the sake of seeing something more of the country, walked on. It seems the honest landlord and his wife were greatly disappointed at this; however, they got into the carriage and rode on to see me, and I shook hands with them with a right good will.
We saw several of the clergymen, who came out to meet us; and I remember stopping just to be introduced, one by one, to a most delightful family, a gray-headed father and mother, with comely brothers and fair sisters, all looking so kindly and homelike, that I should have been glad to accept the invitation they gave me to their dwelling.
This day has been a strange phenomenon to me. In the first place, I have seen in all these villages how universally the people read. I have seen how capable they are of a generous excitement and enthusiasm, and how much may be done by a work of fiction so written as to enlist those sympathies which are common to all classes. Certainly a great deal may be effected in this way, if God gives to any one the power, as I hope he will to many. The power of fictitious writing, for good as well as evil, is a thing which ought most seriously to be reflected on. No one can fail to see that in our day it is becoming a very great agency.
We came home quite tired, as you may well suppose. You will not be surprised that the next day I found myself more disposed to keep my bed than go out.
Two days later: We bade farewell to
We drove all over
"Heck," says one of them, "that's her; see the _courls_!"
The various engravers who have amused themselves by diversifying my face for the public having all, with great unanimity, agreed in giving prominence to this point, I suppose the urchins thought they were on safe ground there. I certainly think I answered one good purpose that day, and that is of giving the much-oppressed and calumniated class called boys an opportunity to develop all the noise that was in them, --a thing for which I think they must bless me in their remembrances. At last the carriage drove into a deep-graveled yard, and we alighted at a porch covered with green ivy, and found ourselves once more at home.
You may spare your anxieties about me, for I do assure you that if I were an old Sèvres china jar I could not have more careful handling than I do. Everybody is considerate; a great deal to say when there appears to be so much excitement. Everybody seems to understand how good-for-nothing I am; and yet, with all this consideration, I have been obliged to keep my room and bed for a good part of the time. Of the multitudes who have called, I have seen scarcely any.
To-morrow evening is to be the great tea-party here. How in the world I am ever to live through it I don't know.
The amount of letters we found waiting for us here in
As to all engagements, I am in a state of happy acquiescence, having resigned myself, as a very tame lion, into the hands of my keepers. Whenever the time comes for me to do anything, I try to behave as well as I can, which, as Dr. Young says, is all that an angel could do under the same circumstances.
_April_ 26. Last night came off the
_soiree_. The hall was handsomely decorated with flags in front. We went with
the lord provost in his carriage. We went up as before into a dressing-room,
where I was presented to many gentlemen and ladies. When we go in, the
cheering, clapping, and stamping at first strikes one with a strange sensation;
but then everybody looks so heartily pleased and delighted, and there is such
an all-pervading atmosphere of geniality and sympathy, as makes me in a few
moments feel quite at home. After all, I consider that these cheers and
The national penny offering, consisting of a thousand golden sovereigns on a magnificent silver salver, stood conspicuously in view of the audience. It has been an unsolicited offering, given in the smallest sums, often from the extreme poverty of the giver. The committee who collected it in Edinburgh and Glasgow bore witness to the willingness with which the very poorest contributed the offering of their sympathy. In one cottage they found a blind woman, and said, "Here, at least, is one who will feel no interest, as she cannot have read the book."
"Indeed," said the old lady, "if I cannot read, my son has read it to me, and I've got my penny saved to give."
It is to my mind extremely touching to see how the poor, in their poverty, can be moved to a generosity surpassing that of the rich. Nor do I mourn that they took it from their slender store, because I know that a penny given from a kindly impulse is a greater comfort and blessing to the poorest giver than even a penny received.
As in the case of the other meeting, we came out long before the speeches were ended. Well, of course I did not sleep all night, and the next day I felt quite miserable.
The lord provost received us into his carriage, and as we
drove along pointed out to us the various objects of interest in the beautiful
town. Among other things, a fine old bridge across the
There arrived, we found the hall crowded, and with difficulty made our way to the platform. Whether owing to the stimulating effect of the air from the ocean, or to the comparatively social aspect of the scene, or perhaps to both, certain it is that we enjoyed the meeting with great zest. I was surrounded on the stage with blooming young ladies, one of whom put into my hands a beautiful bouquet, some flowers of which I have now, dried, in my album. The refreshment tables were adorned with some exquisite wax flowers, the work, as I was afterwards told, of a young lady in the place. One of these designs especially interested me. It was a group of water-lilies resting on a mirror, which gave them the appearance of growing in the water.
We had some very animated speaking, in which the speakers
contrived to blend enthusiastic admiration and love for
They presented an offering in a beautiful embroidered purse,
and after much shaking of hands we went home, and sat
down to the supper-table for a little more chat before going to bed. The next
morning--as we had only till noon to stay in
About two o'clock we started from
At Stonehaven station, where we stopped a few minutes, there was quite a gathering of the inhabitants to exchange greetings, and afterwards, at successive stations along the road, many a kindly face and voice made our journey a pleasant one.
When we got into
The meeting in the evening was in a large church, densely
crowded, and conducted much as the others had been. When they came to sing the
closing hymn, I hoped they would sing Dundee; but they did not, and I fear in
We left Dundee at two o'clock, by cars, for
About night our cars whizzed into the depot at
As we were drinking tea that evening, Elihu Burritt came in.
It was the first time I had ever seen him, though I had heard a great deal of
him from our friends in
We spent the evening in talking over various topics relating to the anti-slavery movement. Mr. Sturge was very confident that something more was to be done than had ever been done yet, by combinations for the encouragement of free in the place of slave grown produce; a question which has, ever since the days of Clarkson, more or less deeply occupied the minds of abolitionists in England. I should say that Mr. Sturge in his family has for many years conscientiously forborne the use of any article produced by slave labor. I could scarcely believe it possible that there could be such an abundance and variety of all that is comfortable and desirable in the various departments of household living within these limits. Mr. Sturge presents the subject with very great force, the more so from the consistency of his example.
The next morning, as we were sitting down to breakfast, our friends sent in to me a plate of the largest, finest strawberries I have ever seen, which, considering that it was only the latter part of April, seemed to me quite an astonishing luxury.
Before we left, we had agreed to meet a circle of friends
A throng of friends accompanied us to the depot, while from
At the station-house in
We found a considerable throng, and I was glad to accept a seat which was offered me in the agreeable vicinity of the lady mayoress, so that I might see what would be interesting to me of the ceremonial.
A very dignified gentleman, dressed in black velvet, with a fine head, made his way through the throng, and sat down by me, introducing himself as Lord Chief Baron Pollock. He told me he had just been reading the legal part of the "Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin," and remarked especially on the opinion of Judge Ruffin, in the case of _State_ v. _Mann_, as having made a deep impression on his mind.
Dinner was announced between nine and ten o'clock, and we were conducted into a splendid hall, where the tables were laid.
Directly opposite me was Mr. Dickens, whom I now beheld for the first time, and was surprised to see looking so young. Mr. Justice Talfourd, known as the author of "Ion," was also there with his lady. She had a beautiful, antique cast of head. The lord mayor was simply dressed in black, without any other adornment than a massive gold chain. We rose from table between eleven and twelve o'clock--that is, we ladies--and went into the drawing-room, where I was presented to Mrs. Dickens and several other ladies. Mrs. Dickens is a good specimen of a truly English woman; tall, large, and well developed, with fine, healthy color, and an air of frankness, cheerfulness, and reliability. A friend whispered to me that she was as observing and fond of humor as her husband.
After a while the gentlemen came back to the drawing-room, and I had a few moments of very pleasant, friendly conversation with Mr. Dickens. They are both people that one could not know a little of without desiring to know more. After a little we began to talk of separating; the lord mayor to take his seat in the House of Commons, and the rest of the party to any other engagement that might be upon their list.
"Come, let us go to the House of Commons," said one of my friends, "and make a night of it." "With all my heart," replied I, "if I only had another body to go into to-morrow."
What a convenience in sight-seeing it would be if one could
have a relay of bodies as of clothes, and slip from one into the other! But we,
not used to the
THE EARL OF CARLISLE.--ARTHUR HELPS.--THE
DUKE AND DUCHESS OF ARGYLL. --MARTIN FARQUHAR TUPPER.--A MEMORABLE
MEETING AT STAFFORD HOUSE.--MACAULAY AND DEAN MILMAN.--WINDSOR CASTLE.--PROFESSOR
STOWE RETURNS TO AMERICA.--MRS. STOWE ON THE CONTINENT.--IMPRESSIONS OF
ROSE COTTAGE, WALWORTH,
MY DEAR,--This morning Mrs. Follen called and we had quite a
chat. We are separated by the whole city. She lives at the West End, while I am
down here in Walworth, which is one of the postscripts of
Lord Carlisle is a great friend to
We went about seven o'clock, the dinner hour being here somewhere between eight and nine. We were shown into an ante-room adjoining the entrance hall, and from that into an adjacent apartment, where we met Lord Carlisle. The room had a pleasant, social air, warmed and enlivened by the blaze of a coal fire and wax candles.
We had never, any of us, met Lord Carlisle before; but the considerateness and cordiality of our reception obviated whatever embarrassment there might have been in this circumstance. In a few moments after we were all seated, a servant announced the Duchess of Sutherland, and Lord Carlisle presented me. She is tall and stately, with a most noble bearing. Her fair complexion, blonde hair, and full lips speak of Saxon blood.
The only person present not of the family connection was my
quondam correspondent in
After the ladies left the table, the conversation turned on
After the gentlemen rejoined us, the Duke and Duchess of Argyll came in, and Lord and Lady Blantyre. These ladies are the daughters of the Duchess of Sutherland. The Duchess of Argyll is of slight and fairy-like figure, with flaxen hair and blue eyes, answering well enough to the description of Annot Lyle in the Legend of Montrose. Lady Blantyre was somewhat taller, of fuller figure, with a very brilliant bloom. Lord Blantyre is of the Stuart blood, a tall and slender young man with very graceful manners.
As to the Duke of Argyll, we found that the picture drawn of
him by his countrymen in
The following evening we went to dine with our old friends
of the Dingle, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cropper, who are now spending a little time
At dinner we were introduced to Lord and Lady Hatherton. Lady Hatherton is a person of great cultivation and intelligence, warmly interested in all the progressive movements of the day; and I gained much information in her society. There were also present Sir Charles and Lady Trevelyan; the former holds an appointment at the treasury, and Lady Trevelyan is a sister of Macaulay.
In the evening quite a circle came in, among others Lady Emma Campbell, sister of the Duke of Argyll; the daughters of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who very kindly invited me to visit them at Lambeth; and Mr. Arthur Helps, besides many others whose names I need not mention.
_May_ 7. This evening our house was opened in a general way for callers, who were coming and going all the evening. I think there must have been over two hundred people, among them Martin Farquhar Tupper, a little man with fresh, rosy complexion and cheery, joyous manners; and Mary Howitt, just such a cheerful, sensible, fireside companion as we find her in her books,--winning love and trust the very first moment of the interview.
The general topic of remark on meeting me seems to be, that
I am not so bad-looking as they were afraid I was; and I do assure you that
when I have seen the things that are put up in the shop windows here with my
name under them, I have been in wondering admiration at the boundless
loving-kindness of my English and Scottish friends in keeping up such a warm
heart for such a Gorgon. I should think that the Sphinx in the
Before the evening was through I was talked out and worn out; there was hardly a chip of me left. To-morrow at eleven o'clock comes the meeting at Stafford House. What it will amount to I do not know; but I take no thought for the morrow.
MY DEAR C.,--In fulfillment of my agreement I will tell you, as nearly as I can remember, all the details of the meeting at Stafford House. At about eleven o'clock we drove under the arched carriage-way of a mansion externally not very showy in appearance.
When the duchess appeared, I thought she looked handsomer by daylight than in the evening. She received us with the same warm and simple kindness which she had shown before. We were presented to the Duke of Sutherland. He is a tall, slender man, with rather a thin face, light-brown hair, and a mild blue eye, with an air of gentleness and dignity.
Among the first that entered were the members of the family, the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, Lord and Lady Blantyre, the Marquis and Marchioness of Stafford, and Lady Emma Campbell. Then followed Lord Shaftesbury with his beautiful lady, and her father and mother, Lord and Lady Palmerston. Lord Palmerston is of middle height, with a keen dark eye and black hair streaked with gray. There is something peculiarly alert and vivacious about all his movements; in short, his appearance perfectly answers to what we know of him from his public life. One has a strange, mythological feeling about the existence of people of whom one hears for many years without ever seeing them. While talking with Lord Palmerston I could but remember how often I had heard father and Mr. S. exulting over his foreign dispatches by our own fireside. There were present, also, Lord John Russell, Mr. Gladstone, and Lord Granville. The latter we all thought very strikingly resembled in his appearance the poet Longfellow.
After lunch the whole party ascended to the picture-gallery,
passing on our way the grand staircase and hall, said to be the most
When all the company were together,
Lord Shaftesbury read a very short, kind, and considerate address in behalf of
the ladies of
This Stafford House meeting, in any view of it, is a most
remarkable fact. Kind and gratifying as its arrangements have been to me, I am
far from appropriating it to myself individually as a personal honor. I rather
regard it as the most public expression possible of the feelings of the women
On this occasion the Duchess of Sutherland presented Mrs.
Stowe with a superb gold bracelet, made in the form of a slave's shackle,
bearing the inscription: "We trust it is a memorial of a chain that is
soon to be broken." On two of the links were inscribed the dates of the
abolition of the slave-trade and of slavery in English territory. Years after
its presentation to her, Mrs. Stowe was able to have engraved on the clasp of
this bracelet, "Constitutional Amendment (forever abolishing slavery in
Continuing her interesting journal, Mrs. Stowe writes, May 9th:--
DEAR E.,--This letter I consecrate to you, because I know that the persons and things to be introduced into it will most particularly be appreciated by you.
In your evening reading circles, Macaulay, Sydney Smith, and Milman have long been such familiar names that you will be glad to go with me over all the scenes of my morning breakfast at Sir Charles Trevelyan's yesterday. Lady Trevelyan, I believe I have said before, is a sister of Macaulay.
We were set down at Westbourne Terrace somewhere, I believe, about eleven o'clock, and found quite a number already in the drawing-room. I had met Macaulay before, but being seated between him and Dean Milman, I must confess I was a little embarrassed at times, because I wanted to hear what they were both saying at the same time. However, by the use of the faculty by which you play a piano with both hands, I got on very comfortably.
There were several other persons of note present at this
breakfast, whose conversation I had not an opportunity of hearing, as they sat
at a distance from me. There was Lord Glenelg, brother of Sir Robert Grant,
"When gathering clouds around I view,"
was from his pen.
The historian Hallam was also present, and I think it very likely there may have been other celebrities whom I did not know. I am always finding out, a day or two after, that I have been with somebody very remarkable and did not know it at the time.
Under date of May 18th she writes to her sister Mary:--
DEAR M.,--I can compare the embarrassment of our
The ride was done all too soon. About eleven o'clock we found ourselves going up the old stone steps to the castle. We went first through the state apartments. The principal thing that interested me was the ball-room, which was a perfect gallery of Vandyke's paintings. After leaving the ball-room we filed off to the proper quarter to show our orders for the private rooms. The state apartments, which we had been looking at, are open at all times, but the private apartments can only be seen in the Queen's absence and by a special permission, which had been procured for us on that occasion by the kindness of the Duchess of Sutherland.
One of the first objects that attracted my attention upon entering the vestibule was a baby's wicker wagon, standing in one corner. It was much such a carriage as all mothers are familiar with; such as figures largely in the history of almost every family. It had neat curtains and cushions of green merino, and was not royal, only maternal. I mused over the little thing with a good deal of interest.
We went for our dinner to the White Hart, the very inn which Shakespeare celebrates in his "Merry Wives," and had a most overflowing merry time of it. After dinner we had a beautiful drive.
We were bent upon looking up the church which gave rise to Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard," intending when we got there to have a little scene over it; Mr. S., in all the conscious importance of having been there before, assuring us that he knew exactly where it was. So, after some difficulty with our coachman, and being stopped at one church which would not answer our purpose in any respect, we were at last set down by one which looked authentic; embowered in mossy elms, with a most ancient and goblin yew-tree, an ivy-mantled tower, all perfect as could be. Here, leaning on the old fence, we repeated the Elegy, which certainly applies here as beautifully as language could apply.
Imagine our chagrin, on returning to
The evening after our return from
I have been quite amused with something which has happened
lately. This week the "Times" has informed the
Now Mrs. Stowe did not know anything of this, but simply gave the silk into the hands of a friend, and was in due time waited on in her own apartment by a very respectable-appearing woman, who offered to make the dress, and lo, this is the result! Since the publication of this piece, I have received earnest missives, from various parts of the country, begging me to interfere, hoping that I was not going to patronize the white slavery of England, and that I would employ my talents equally against oppression in every form. Could these people only know in what sweet simplicity I had been living in the State of Maine, where the only dressmaker of our circle was an intelligent, refined, well-educated woman who was considered as the equal of us all, and whose spring and fall ministrations to our wardrobe were regarded a double pleasure,--a friendly visit as well as a domestic assistance,--I say, could they know all this, they would see how guiltless I was in the matter. I verily never thought but that the nice, pleasant person who came to measure me for my silk dress was going to take it home and make it herself; it never occurred to me that she was the head of an establishment.
May 22, she writes to her husband, whose duties had obliged
him to return to
"_May_ 30. The next day from my last letter came off Miss Greenfield's concert, of which I send a card. You see in what company they have put your poor little wife. Funny!--isn't it? Well, the Hons. and Right Hons. all were there. I sat by Lord Carlisle.
"After the concert the duchess asked Lady Hatherton and me to come round to Stafford House and take tea, which was not a thing to be despised, either on account of the tea or the duchess. A lovelier time we never had,--present, the Duchess of Argyll, Lady Caroline Campbell, Lady Hatherton, and myself. We had the nicest cup of tea, with such cream, and grapes and apricots, with some Italian bread, etc.
"When we were going the duchess got me, on some pretext, into another room, and came up and put her arms round me, with her noble face all full of feeling.
"'Oh, Mrs. Stowe, I have been reading that last chapter in the "Key"; Argyll read it aloud to us. Oh, surely, surely you will succeed,--God surely will bless you!'
"I said then that I thanked her for all her love and
feeling for us, told her how earnestly all the women of
"So we kissed each other, and vowed friendship and fidelity--so I came away.
"To-day I am going with Lord Shaftesbury to
"_May_ 31. We went to lunch
with Miss R. at Oxford Terrace, where, among a number of distinguished guests,
was Lady Byron, with whom I had a few moments of deeply interesting
conversation. No engravings that ever have been circulated in
"According to request, I will endeavor to keep you
informed of all our goings-on after you left, up to the time of our departure
"We have borne in mind your advice to hasten away to
the Continent. Charles wrote, a day or two since, to
Mrs. C. at
"It is a beautiful specimen of silver-work, eighteen inches long, with a group of silver figures on it representing Religion, with the Bible in her hand, giving liberty to the slave. The slave is a masterly piece of work. He stands with his hands clasped, looking up to Heaven, while a white man is knocking the shackles from his feet. But the prettiest part of the scene was the presentation of a _gold pen_ by a band of beautiful children, one of whom made a very pretty speech. I called the little things to come and stand around me, and talked with them a few minutes, and this was all the speaking that fell to my share.
"To-morrow we go--go to quiet, to obscurity, to
"_Paris, June_ 4. Here we are
"I wish the children could see these Tuileries with their statues and fountains, men, women, and children seated in family groups under the trees, chatting, reading aloud, working muslin,--children driving hoop, playing ball, all alive and chattering French. Such fresh, pretty girls as are in the shops here! _Je suis ravé_, as they say. In short I am decidedly in a French humor, and am taking things quite _couleur de rose_.
"_Monday, June_ 13. We went this morning to the studio of M. Belloc, who is to paint my portrait. The first question which he proposed, with a genuine French air, was the question of 'pose' or position. It was concluded that, as other pictures had taken me looking at the spectator, this should take me looking away. M. Belloc remarked that M. Charpentier said I appeared always with the air of an observer,--was always looking around on everything. Hence M. Belloc would take me '_en observatrice, mais pas en curieuse_,'--with the air of observation, but not of curiosity. By and by M. Charpentier came in. He began panegyrizing 'Uncle Tom,' and this led to a discussion of the ground of its unprecedented success. In his thirty-five years' experience as a bookseller, he had known nothing like it. It surpassed all modern writings! At first he would not read it; his taste was for old masters of a century or two ago. 'Like M. Belloc in painting,' said I. At length he found his friend M., the first intelligence of the age, reading it.
"'What, you, too?' said he.
"'Ah, ah!' replied the friend; 'say nothing about this book! There is nothing like it. This leaves us all behind,--all, all, miles behind!'
"M. Belloc said the reason was because there was in it more _genuine faith_ than in any book; and we branched off into florid eloquence touching paganism, Christianity, and art.
"_Wednesday, June_ 22. Adieu
"_Thursday_, 23, eight o'clock A. M. Since five we have had a fine bustle on the quay below our windows. There lay three steamers, shaped for all the world like our last night's rolls. One would think Ichabod Crane might sit astride one of them and dip his feet in the water. They ought to be swift. L'Hirondelle (The Swallow) flew at five; another at six. We leave at nine.
"_Lyons_. There was a scene of indescribable confusion upon our arrival here. Out of the hold of our steamer a man with a rope and hook began hauling baggage up a smooth board. Three hundred people were sorting their goods without checks. Porters were shouldering immense loads, four or five heavy trunks at once, corded together, and stalking off Atlantean. Hat-boxes, bandboxes, and valises burst like a meteoric shower out of a crater. '_A moi, à moi_!' was the cry, from old men, young women, soldiers, shopkeepers, and _frères_, scuffling and shoving together.
"_Saturday, June_ 25.
"As evening drew on, a wind sprang up and a storm
seemed gathering on the Jura. The rain dashed against the panes of the berlin
as we rode past the grim-faced monarch of the 'misty shroud.' It was night as
we drove into
"The people of the neighborhood, having discovered who
Harriet was, were very kind, and full of delight at seeing her. It was
Upon their return to
"One of the pillars in this vault is covered with names. I think it is Bonnevard's Pillar. There are the names of Byron, Hunt, Schiller, and ever so many more celebrities. As we were going from the cell our conductress seemed to have a sudden light upon her mind. She asked a question or two of some of our party, and fell upon me vehemently to put my name also there. Charley scratched it on the soft freestone, and there it is for future ages. The lady could scarce repress her enthusiasm; she shook my hand over and over again, and said she had read 'Uncle Tom.' 'It is beautiful,' she said, 'but it is cruel.'
"_Monday, July_ 18. Weather suspicious. Stowed ourselves and our baggage into
our _voiture_, and bade adieu to our friends and to
"_Tuesday, July_ 19. Rode through Payerne to Freyburg. Stopped at the Zähringer Hof,--most romantic of inns.
"_Wednesday, July_ 20. Examined, not the lions, but the bears of
"We crossed the Wengern Alps to Grindelwald. The
Jungfrau is right over against us,--her glaciers purer, tenderer, more
dazzlingly beautiful, if possible, than those of
From Rosenlaui, on this journey, Charles Beecher writes:--
"_Friday, July 22_. Grindelwald to Meyringen. On we came, to the top of the Great Schiedeck, where H. and W. botanized, while I slept. Thence we rode down the mountain till we reached Rosenlaui, where, I am free to say, a dinner was to me a more interesting object than a glacier. Therefore, while H. and W. went to the latter, I turned off to the inn, amid their cries and reproaches.
"Here, then, I am, writing these notes in the _salle à manger_ of the inn, where other voyagers are eating and drinking, and there is H. feeding on the green moonshine of an emerald ice cave. One would almost think her incapable of fatigue. How she skips up and down high places and steep places, to the manifest perplexity of the honest guide Kienholz, _père_, who tries to take care of her, but does not exactly know how! She gets on a pyramid of débris, which the edge of the glacier is plowing and grinding up, sits down, and falls--not asleep exactly, but into a trance. W. and I are ready to go on: we shout; our voice is lost in the roar of the torrent. We send the guide. He goes down, and stands doubtfully. He does not know exactly what to do. She hears him, and starts to her feet, pointing with one hand to yonder peak, and with the other to that knife-like edge that seems cleaving heaven with its keen and glistening cimeter of snow, reminding one of Isaiah's sublime imagery, 'For my sword is bathed in heaven.' She points at the grizzly rocks, with their jags and spear-points. Evidently she is beside herself, and thinks she can remember the names of those monsters, born of earthquake and storm, which cannot be named nor known but by sight, and then are known at once perfectly and forever."
After traveling through
"I am seated in a snug little room at M. Belloc's. The weather is overpoweringly hot, but these Parisian houses seem to have seized and imprisoned coolness. French household ways are delightful. I like their seclusion from the street by these deep-paned quadrangles.
"Madame Belloc was the translator of Maria Edgeworth, by that lady's desire; corresponded with her for years, and still has many of her letters. Her translation of 'Uncle Tom' has to me all the merit and all the interest of an original composition. In perusing it, I enjoy the pleasure of reading the story with scarce any consciousness of its ever having been mine."
The next letter is from
"_London, August _28. Our last letters from home changed all our plans. We concluded to hurry away by the next steamer, if at that late hour we could get a passage. We were all in a bustle. The last shoppings for aunts, cousins, and little folks were to be done by us all. The Palais Royal was to be rummaged; bronzes, vases, statuettes, bonbons, playthings,--all that the endless fertility of France could show,--was to be looked over for the 'folks at home.'
"How we sped across the Channel C. relates. We are
spending a few very pleasant days with our kind friends the L.'s, in
"_On board the
"Lady Carlisle welcomed us most affectionately, and we
learned that, had we not been so reserved at the
"Our friends spoke much of Sunmer and Prescott, who had visited there; also of Mr. Lawrence, our former ambassador, who had visited them just before his return. After a very pleasant day, we left with regret the warmth of this hospitable circle, thus breaking one more of the links that bind us to the English shore.
"Nine o'clock in the evening found us sitting by a
cheerful fire in the parlor of Mr. E. Baines at
"Tuesday we parted from our excellent friends in
"A deputation from
"Thus, almost sadly as a child might leave its home, I left the shores of kind, strong Old England,--the mother of us all."
ANTI-SLAVERY WORK.--STIRRING TIMES IN THE UNITED
STATES.--ADDRESS TO THE LADIES OF GLASGOW.--APPEAL TO THE WOMEN OF
AMERICA.--CORRESPONDENCE WITH WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON.--THE WRITING OF
"DRED."--FAREWELL LETTER FROM GEORGIANA MAY.--SECOND VOYAGE TO
After her return in the autumn of 1853 from her European tour, Mrs. Stowe threw herself heart and soul into the great struggle with slavery. Much of her time was occupied in distributing over a wide area of country the English gold with which she had been intrusted for the advancement of the cause. With this money she assisted in the redemption of slaves whose cases were those of peculiar hardship, and helped establish them as free men. She supported anti-slavery lectures wherever they were most needed, aided in establishing and maintaining anti-slavery publications, founded and assisted in supporting schools in which colored people might be taught how to avail themselves of the blessings of freedom. She arranged public meetings, and prepared many of the addresses that should be delivered at them. She maintained such an extensive correspondence with persons of all shades of opinion in all parts of the world, that the letters received and answered by her between 1853 and 1856 would fill volumes. With all these multifarious interests, her children received a full share of her attention, nor were her literary activities relaxed.
Immediately upon the completion of her European tour, her
experiences were published in the form of a journal, both in this country and
Soon after her return to America, feeling that she owed a debt of gratitude to her friends in Scotland, which her feeble health had not permitted her adequately to express while with them, Mrs. Stowe wrote the following open letter:--
TO THE LADIES' ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY OF
_Dear Friends_,--I have had many things in my mind to say to you, which it was my hope to have said personally, but which I am now obliged to say by letter.
I have had many fears that you must have thought our
intercourse, during the short time that I was in
At the time that I accepted your very kind invitation, I was in tolerable health, and supposed that I should be in a situation to enjoy society, and mingle as much in your social circles as you might desire.
When the time came for me to fulfil my engagement with you, I was, as you know, confined to my bed with a sickness brought on by the exertion of getting the "Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin" through the press during the winter.
In every part of the world the story of "Uncle Tom" had awakened sympathy for the American slave, and consequently in every part of the world the story of his wrongs had been denied; it had been asserted to be a mere work of romance, and I was charged with being the slanderer of the institutions of my own country. I knew that if I shrank from supporting my position, the sympathy which the work had excited would gradually die out, and the whole thing would be looked upon as a mere romantic excitement of the passions.
When I came abroad, I had not the slightest idea of the kind
of reception which was to meet me in
As through your society I was invited to your country, it
may seem proper that what communication I have to make to friends in
In the first place, then, the question will probably arise
in your minds, Have the recent demonstrations in
The first result of those demonstrations, as might have been expected, was an intense reaction. Every kind of false, evil, and malignant report has been circulated by malicious and partisan papers; and if there is any blessing in having all manner of evil said against us falsely, we have seemed to be in a fair way to come in possession of it.
The sanction which was given in this matter to the voice of
the people, by the nobility of
The effect of making a cause generally unfashionable is much greater in this world than it ought to be. It operates very powerfully with the young and impressible portion of the community; therefore Cassius M. Clay very well said with regard to the demonstration at Stafford House: "It will help our cause by rendering it fashionable."
With regard to the present state of the anti-slavery cause
The "Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin" has sold extensively at the South, following in the wake of "Uncle Tom." Not one fact or statement in it has been disproved as yet. I have yet to learn of even an _attempt_ to disprove.
The "North American Review," a periodical which has never been favorable to the discussion of the slavery question, has come out with a review of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," in which, while rating the book very low as a work of art, they account for its great circulation and success by the fact of its being a true picture of slavery. They go on to say that the system is one so inherently abominable that, unless slaveholders shall rouse themselves and abolish the principle of chattel ownership, they can no longer sustain themselves under the contempt and indignation of the whole civilized world. What are the slaveholders to do when this is the best their friends and supporters can say for them?
I regret to say that the movements of Christian denominations on this subject are yet greatly behind what they should be. Some movements have been made by religious bodies, of which I will not now speak; but as a general thing the professed Christian church is pushed up to its duty by the world, rather than the world urged on by the church.
The colored people in this country are rapidly rising in
every respect. I shall request Frederick Douglass to send you the printed
account of the recent colored convention. It would do credit to any set of men whatever,
and I hope you will get some notice taken of it in the papers of the
May God so guide us in all things that our good he not evil spoken of, and that we be left to defend nothing which is opposed to his glory and the good of man!
Yours in all sympathy,
H. B. STOWE.
"The Providence of God has brought our nation to a crisis of most solemn interest.
"A question is now pending in our national legislature which is most vitally to affect the temporal and eternal interests, not only of ourselves, but of our children and our children's children for ages yet unborn. Through our nation it is to affect the interests of liberty and Christianity throughout the world.
"Of the woes, the injustice, and the misery of slavery it is not needful to speak. There is but one feeling and one opinion upon this subject among us all. I do not think there is a mother who clasps her child to her breast who would ever be made to feel it right that that child should be a slave, not a mother among us who would not rather lay that child in its grave.
"Nor can I believe that there is a woman so unchristian as to think it right to inflict upon her neighbor's child what she would consider worse than death were it inflicted upon her own. I do not believe there is a wife who would think it right that _her_ husband should be sold to a trader to be worked all his life without wages or a recognition of rights. I do not believe there is a husband who would consider it right that his wife should be regarded by law the property of another man. I do not believe there is a father or mother who would consider it right were they forbidden by law to teach their children to read. I do not believe there is a brother who would think it right to have his sister held as property, with no legal defense for her personal honor, by any man living.
"All this is inherent in slavery. It is not the abuse
of slavery, but its legal nature. And there is not a woman in the
"But though our hearts have bled over this wrong, there have been many things tending to fetter our hands, to perplex our efforts, and to silence our voice. We have been told that to speak of it was an invasion of the rights of states. We have heard of promises and compacts, and the natural expression of feeling has in many cases been repressed by an appeal to those honorable sentiments which respect the keeping of engagements.
"But a time has now come when the subject is arising under quite a different aspect.
"The question is not now, shall the wrongs of slavery
exist as they have within their own territories, but shall we permit them to be
extended all over the free territories of the
"Nor is this all! This is not
the last thing that is expected or intended. Should this movement be submitted
to in silence, should the North consent to this solemn breach of contract on
the part of the South, there yet remains one more step to be apprehended,
namely, the legalizing of slavery throughout the free States. By a decision of
the supreme court in the Lemmon case, it may be
declared lawful for slave property to be held in the Northern States. Should
this come to pass, it is no more improbable that there may be four years hence
slave depots in
"Women of the
"And now you ask, What can the _women_ of a country do?
"O women of the
"There was never a great interest agitating a community
where woman's influence was not felt for good or for evil. At the time when the
abolition of the slave-trade was convulsing
"The women all over
"Nor is this deep feeling confined to
"There has been a universal expectation that the next
step taken by
"But what can they say now if, just as the great
struggle for human rights is commencing throughout Europe,
"While all the nations of
"The first duty of every American woman at this time is to thoroughly understand the subject for herself, and to feel that she is bound to use her influence for the right. Then they can obtain signatures to petitions to our national legislature. They can spread information upon this vital topic throughout their neighborhoods. They can employ lecturers to lay the subject before the people. They can circulate the speeches of their members of Congress that bear upon the subject, and in many other ways they can secure to all a full understanding of the present position of our country.
"Above all, it seems to be necessary and desirable that we should make this subject a matter of earnest prayer. A conflict is now begun between the forces of liberty and despotism throughout the whole world. We who are Christians, and believe in the sure word of prophecy, know that fearful convulsions and over-turnings are predicted before the coming of Him who is to rule the earth in righteousness. How important, then, in this crisis, that all who believe in prayer should retreat beneath the shadow of the Almighty!
"It is a melancholy but unavoidable result of such great encounters of principle that they tend to degenerate into sectional and personal bitterness. It is this liability that forms one of the most solemn and affecting features of the crisis now presented. We are on the eve of a conflict which will try men's souls, and strain to the utmost the bonds of brotherly union that bind this nation together.
"Let us, then, pray that in the agitation of this question between the North and the South the war of principle may not become a mere sectional conflict, degenerating into the encounter of physical force. Let us raise our hearts to Him who has the power to restrain the wrath of men, that He will avert the consequences that our sins as a nation so justly deserve.
"There are many noble minds in the South who do not participate in the machinations of their political leaders, and whose sense of honor and justice is outraged by this proposition equally with our own. While, then, we seek to sustain the cause of freedom unwaveringly, let us also hold it to be our office as true women to moderate the acrimony of political contest, remembering that the slaveholder and the slave are alike our brethren, whom the law of God commands us to love as ourselves.
"For the sake, then, of our dear children, for the sake
of our common country, for the sake of outraged and struggling liberty
throughout the world, let every woman of
At this same time Mrs. Stowe found herself engaged in an active correspondence with William Lloyd Garrison, much of which appeared in the columns of his paper, the "Liberator." Late in 1853 she writes to him:--
"In regard to you, your paper, and in some measure your party, I am in an honest embarrassment. I sympathize with you fully in many of your positions. Others I consider erroneous, hurtful to liberty and the progress of humanity. Nevertheless, I believe you and those who support them to be honest and conscientious in your course and opinions. What I fear is that your paper will take from poor Uncle Tom his Bible, and give him nothing in its place."
To this Mr. Garrison answers: "I do not understand why the imputation is thrown upon the 'Liberator' as tending to rob Uncle Tom of his Bible. I know of no writer in its pages who wishes to deprive him of it, or of any comfort he may derive from it. It is for him to place whatever estimate he can upon it, and for you and me to do the same; but for neither of us to accept any more of it than we sincerely believe to be in accordance with reason, truth, and eternal right. How much of it is true and obligatory, each one can determine only for himself; for on Protestant ground there is no room for papal infallibility. All Christendom professes to believe in the inspiration of the volume, and at the same time all Christendom is by the ears as to its real teachings. Surely you would not have me disloyal to my conscience. How do you prove that you are not trammeled by educational or traditional notions as to the entire sanctity of the book? Indeed, it seems to me very evident that you are not free in spirit, in view of the apprehension and sorrow you feel because you find your conceptions of the Bible controverted in the 'Liberator,' else why such disquietude of mind? 'Thrice is he armed who hath his quarrel just.'"
In answer to this Mrs. Stowe writes:--
I did not reply to your letter immediately, because I did not wish to speak on so important a subject unadvisedly, or without proper thought and reflection. The greater the interest involved in a truth the more careful, self-distrustful, and patient should be the inquiry.
I would not attack the faith of a heathen without being sure I had a better one to put in its place, because, such as it is, it is better than nothing. I notice in Mr. Parker's sermons a very eloquent passage on the uses and influences of the Bible. He considers it to embody absolute and perfect religion, and that no better mode for securing present and eternal happiness can be found than in the obedience to certain religious precepts therein recorded. He would have it read and circulated, and considers it, as I infer, a Christian duty to send it to the heathen, the slave, etc. I presume you agree with him.
These things being supposed about the Bible would certainly make it appear that, if any man deems it his duty to lessen its standing in the eyes of the community, he ought at least to do so in a cautious and reverential spirit, with humility and prayer.
My objection to the mode in which these things are handled in the "Liberator" is that the general tone and spirit seem to me the reverse of this. If your paper circulated only among those of disciplined and cultivated minds, skilled to separate truth from falsehood, knowing where to go for evidence and how to satisfy the doubts you raise, I should feel less regret. But your name and benevolent labors have given your paper a circulation among the poor and lowly. They have no means of investigating, no habits of reasoning. The Bible, as they at present understand it, is doing them great good, and is a blessing to them and their families. The whole tendency of your mode of proceeding is to lessen their respect and reverence for the Bible, without giving them anything in its place.
I have no fear of discussion as to its final results on the Bible; my only regrets are for those human beings whose present and immortal interests I think compromised by this manner of discussion. Discussion of the evidence of the authenticity and inspiration of the Bible and of all theology will come more and more, and I rejoice that they will. But I think they must come, as all successful inquiries into truth must, in a calm, thoughtful, and humble spirit; not with bold assertions, hasty generalizations, or passionate appeals.
I appreciate your good qualities none the less though you differ with me on this point. I believe you to be honest and sincere. In Mr. Parker's works I have found much to increase my respect and esteem for him as a man. He comes to results, it is true, to which it would be death and utter despair for me to arrive at. Did I believe as he does about the Bible and Jesus, I were of all creatures most miserable, because I could not love God. I could find no God to love. I would far rather never have been born.
As to you, my dear friend, you must own that my frankness to you is the best expression of my confidence in your honor and nobleness. Did I not believe that "an excellent spirit" is in you, I would not take the trouble to write all this. If in any points in this note I appear to have misapprehended or done you injustice, I hope you will candidly let me know where and how.
Truly your friend,
H. B. STOWE.
[Illustration: Lyman Beecher]
In addition to these letters the following extracts from a subsequent letter to Mr. Garrison are given to show in what respect their fields of labor differed, and to present an idea of what Mrs. Stowe was doing for the cause of freedom besides writing against slavery:--
DEAR FRIEND,--I see and sincerely rejoice in the result of
your lecture in
Our lectures have been somewhat embarrassed by a pressure of new business brought upon us by the urgency of the Kansas-Nebraska question. Since we began, however, brother Edward has devoted his whole time to visiting, consultation, and efforts the result of which will shortly be given to the public. We are trying to secure a universal arousing of the pulpit.
Dr. Bacon's letter is noble. You must think so. It has been sent to every member of Congress. Dr. Kirk's sermon is an advance, and his congregation warmly seconded it. Now, my good friend, be willing to see that the church is better than you have thought it. Be not unwilling to see some good symptoms, and hope that even those who see not at all at first will gain as they go on. I am acting on the conviction that you love the cause better than self. If anything can be done now advantageously by the aid of money, let me know. God has given me some power in this way, though I am too feeble to do much otherwise.
Yours for the cause,
H. B. STOWE.
Although the demand was very great upon Mrs. Stowe for magazine and newspaper articles, many of which she managed to write in 1854-55, she had in her mind at this time a new book which should be in many respects the complement of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." In preparing her Key to the latter work, she had collected much new material. In 1855, therefore, and during the spring of 1856, she found time to weave these hitherto unused facts into the story of "Dred." In her preface to the English edition of this book she writes:--
"The author's object in this book is to show the general effect of slavery on society; the various social disadvantages which it brings, even to its most favored advocates; the shiftlessness and misery and backward tendency of all the economical arrangements of slave States; the retrograding of good families into poverty; the deterioration of land; the worse demoralization of all classes, from the aristocratic, tyrannical planter to the oppressed and poor white, which is the result of the introduction of slave labor.
"It is also an object to display the corruption of Christianity which arises from the same source; a corruption that has gradually lowered the standard of the church, North and South, and been productive of more infidelity than the works of all the encyclopaedists put together."
The story of "Dred" was suggested by the famous negro insurrection, led by Nat Turner, in
One sultry summer night there arose a terrific thunder-storm, with continuous flashes of lightning and incessant rumbling and muttering of thunder, every now and then breaking out into sharp, crashing reports followed by torrents of rain.
The two young girls, trembling with fear, groped their way down-stairs to their mother's room, and on entering found her lying quietly in bed awake, and calmly watching the storm from the windows, the shades being up. She expressed no surprise on seeing them, but said that she had not been herself in the least frightened, though intensely interested in watching the storm. "I have been writing a description of a thunder-storm for my book, and I am watching to see if I need to correct it in any particular." Our readers will be interested to know that she had so well described a storm from memory that even this vivid object-lesson brought with it no new suggestions. This scene is to be found in the twenty-fourth chapter of "Dred,"--"Life in the Swamps."
"The day had been sultry and it was now an hour or two past midnight, when a thunder-storm, which had long been gathering and muttering in the distant sky, began to develop its forces. A low, shivering sigh crept through the woods, and swayed in weird whistlings the tops of the pines; and sharp arrows of lightning came glittering down among the branches, as if sent from the bow of some warlike angel. An army of heavy clouds swept in a moment across the moon; then came a broad, dazzling, blinding sheet of flame."
What particularly impressed Mrs. Stowe's daughters at the time was their mother's perfect calmness, and the minute study of the storm. She was on the alert to detect anything which might lead her to correct her description.
Of this new story Charles Summer wrote from the senate chamber:--
MY DEAR MRS. STOWE,--I am rejoiced to learn, from your
excellent sister here, that you are occupied with another tale exposing
slavery. I feel that it will act directly upon pending questions, and help us
in our struggle for
Ever sincerely yours,
Having finished this second great story of slavery, in the
early summer of 1856 Mrs. Stowe decided to visit
Just before sailing she received the following touching letter from her life-long friend, Georgiana May. It is the last one of a series that extended without interruption over a period of thirty years, and as such has been carefully cherished:--
OCEAN HOUSE, GROTON POINT, _July_ 26, 1856.
DEAR HATTIE,--Very likely it is too late for me to come with my modest knock to your study door, and ask to be taken in for a moment, but I do so want to _bless_ you before you go, and I have not been well enough to write until to-day. It seems just as if I _could_ not let you go till I have seen once more your face in the flesh, for great uncertainties hang over my future. One thing, however, is certain: whichever of us two gets first to the farther shore of the great ocean between us and the unseen will be pretty sure to be at hand to welcome the other. It is not poetry, but solemn verity between us that we _shall_ meet again.
But there is nothing _morbid_ or _morbific_ going into these few lines. I have made "Old Tiff's" acquaintance. _He_ is a verity,--will stand up with Uncle Tom and Topsy, pieces of negro property you will be guilty of holding after you are dead. Very likely your children may be selling them.
Hattie, I rejoice over this completed work. Another work for God and your generation. I am glad that you have come out of it alive, that you have pleasure in prospect, that you "walk at liberty" and have done with "fits of languishing." Perhaps some day I shall be set free, but the prospect does not look promising, except as I have full faith that "the Good Man above is looking on, and will bring it all round right." Still "heart and flesh" both "fail me." He will be the "strength of my heart," and I never seem to doubt "my portion forever."
If I never speak to you again, this is the farewell utterance.
Mrs. Stowe was accompanied on this second trip to
SECOND VISIT TO ENGLAND.--A GLIMPSE AT THE QUEEN.--THE DUKE OF ARGYLL AND INVERARY.--EARLY CORRESPONDENCE WITH LADY BYRON.--DUNROBIN CASTLE AND ITS INMATES.--A VISIT TO STOKE PARK.--LORD DUFFERIN.--CHARLES KINGSLEY AT HOME.--PARIS REVISITED.--MADAME MOHL'S RECEPTIONS.
After reaching England, about the middle of August, 1856, Mrs. Stowe and her husband spent some days in London completing arrangements to have an English edition of "Dred" published by Sampson Low & Co. Professor Stowe's duties in America being very pressing, he had intended returning at once, but was detained for a short time, as will be seen in the following letter written by him from Glasgow, August 29, to a friend in America:--
DEAR FRIEND,--I finished my business in London on Wednesday,
and intended to return by the Liverpool steamer of to-morrow, but find that
every berth on that line is engaged until the 3d of October. We therefore came
here yesterday, and I shall take passage in the steamer
The Queen seemed really delighted to see my wife, and
remarkably glad to see me for her sake. She pointed us out to
I expect to be in
C. E. STOWE.
After her husband's departure for the
MY DEAR HUSBAND,--We have been now a week in this delicious
place, enjoying the finest skies and scenery, the utmost of kind hospitality.
From Loch Goil we took the coach for Inverary, a beautiful drive of about two
hours. We had seats on the outside, and the driver John, like some of the
The common routine of the day here is as follows: We rise about half past eight. About half past nine we all meet in the dining-hall, where the servants are standing in a line down one side, and a row of chairs for guests and visitors occupies the other. The duchess with her nine children, a perfectly beautiful little flock, sit together. The duke reads the Bible and a prayer, and pronounces the benediction. After that, breakfast is served,--a very hearty, informal, cheerful meal,--and after that come walks, or drives, or fishing parties, till lunch time, and then more drives, or anything else: everybody, in short, doing what he likes till half past seven, which is the dinner hour. After that we have coffee and tea in the evening.
The first morning, the duke took me to see his mine of nickel silver. We had a long and beautiful drive, and talked about everything in literature, religion, morals, and the temperance movement, about which last he is in some state of doubt and uncertainty, not inclining, I think, to have it pressed yet, though feeling there is need of doing something.
If "Dred" has as good a sale in
"To prevent disappointment, 'Dred' Not to be had till," etc.
Everybody is after it, and the prospect is of an enormous sale.
God, to whom I prayed night and day while I was writing the book, has heard me, and given us of worldly goods _more_ than I asked. I feel, therefore, a desire to "walk softly," and inquire, for what has He so trusted us?
Every day I am more charmed with the duke and duchess; they
are simple-hearted, frank, natural, full of feeling, of piety, and good sense.
They certainly are, apart from any considerations of rank or position, most
interesting and noble people. The duke laughed heartily at many things I told
him of our
Our American politics form the daily topic of interest. The late movements in Congress are discussed: with great warmth, and every morning the papers are watched for new details.
I must stop now, as it is late and we are to leave here
early to-morrow morning. We are going to Staffa, lona, the
At Dunrobin Mrs. Stowe found awaiting her the following note from her friend, Lady Byron:--
Your book, dear Mrs. Stowe, is of the "little leaven" kind, and must prove a great moral force,--perhaps not manifestly so much as secretly, and yet I can hardly conceive so much power without immediate and sensible effects; only there will be a strong disposition to resist on the part of all the hollow-hearted professors of religion, whose heathenisms you so unsparingly expose. They have a class feeling like others. To the young, and to those who do not reflect much on what is offered to their belief, you will do great good by showing how spiritual food is adulterated. The Bread from Heaven is in the same case as baker's bread. I feel that one perusal is not enough. It is a "mine," to use your own simile. If there is truth in what I heard Lord Byron say, that works of fiction _lived_ only by the amount of _truth_ which they contained, your story is sure of long life. . . .
I know now, more than before, how to value communion with you.
With kind regards to your family,
A. T. NOEL BYRON.
From this pleasant abiding-place Mrs. Stowe writes to her husband:--
MY DEAR HUSBAND,--Everything here is like a fairy story. The
place is beautiful! It is the most perfect combination of architectural and
poetic romance, with home comfort. The people, too, are charming. We have here
Mr. Labouchere, a cabinet minister, and Lady Mary his wife,--I like him very
much, and her, too,--Kingsley's brother, a very entertaining man, and to-morrow
Lord Ellsmere is expected. I wish you could be here, for I am sure you would
like it. Life is so quiet and sincere and friendly, that you would feel more as
if you had come at the hearts of these people than in
The Sutherland estate looks like a garden. We stopped at the
"Dred" is selling over here wonderfully. Low says, with all the means at his command, he has not been able to meet the demand. He sold fifty thousand in two weeks, and probably will sell as many more.
I am showered with letters, private and printed, in which
the only difficulty is to know what the writers would be at. I see evidently
happiness and prosperity all through the line of this estate. I see the duke
giving his thought and time, and spending the whole income of this estate in
improvements upon it. I see the duke and duchess evidently beloved wherever
they move. I see them most amiable, most Christian, most considerate to
everybody. The writers of the letters admit the goodness of the duke, but
denounce the system, and beg me to observe its effects for myself. I do observe
that, compared with any other part of the
Henry was invited to the tenants' dinner, where he excited much amusement by pledging every toast in fair water, as he has done invariably on all occasions since he has been here.
The duchess, last night, showed me her copy of "Dred," in which she has marked what most struck or pleased her. I begged it, and am going to send it to you. She said to me this morning at breakfast, "The Queen says that she began 'Dred' the very minute she got it, and is deeply interested in it."
She bought a copy of
_Thursday Morning, September 25_. We were obliged to get up at half past five the morning we left Dunrobin, an effort when one doesn't go to bed till one o'clock. We found breakfast laid for us in the library, and before we had quite finished the duchess came in. Our starting off was quite an imposing sight. First came the duke's landau, in which were Mary, the duke, and myself; then a carriage in which were Eliza and Hatty, and finally the carriage which we had hired, with Henry, our baggage, and Mr. Jackson (the duke's secretary). The gardener sent a fresh bouquet for each of us, and there was such a leave-taking, as if we were old and dear friends. We did really love them, and had no doubt of their love for us.
The duke rode with us as far as Dornach, where he showed us the cathedral beneath which his ancestors are buried, and where is a statue of his father, similar to one the tenants have erected on top of the highest hill in the neighborhood.
We also saw the prison, which had but two inmates, and the
old castle. Here the duke took leave of us, and taking our own carriage we
crossed the ferry and continued on our way. After a very bad night's rest at
Inverness, in consequence of the town's being so full of people attending some
Highland games that we could have no places at the
hotel, and after a weary ride in the rain, we came into
To-morrow we go on to
Henry Stowe returned to America in October to enter Dartmouth College, while the rest of the party pursued their way southward, as will be seen by the following letters:--
DEAR HUSBAND,--Henry will tell you all about our journey, and at present I have but little time for details. I received your first letter with great joy, relief, and gratitude, first to God for restoring your health and strength, and then to you for so good, long, and refreshing a letter.
Henry, I hope, comes home with a serious determination to do well and be a comfort. Seldom has a young man seen what he has in this journey, or made more valuable friends.
Since we left
I send you letters, etc., by him. One hundred thousand
copies of "Dred." sold in four weeks! After that who cares what
critics say? Its success in
In my journal to Henry, which you may look for next week, you will learn how I have been very near the Queen, and formed acquaintance with divers of her lords and ladies, and heard all she has said about "Dred;" how she prefers it to "Uncle Tom," how she inquired for you, and other matters.
Till then, I am, as ever, your affectionate wife,
H. B. STOWE.
"The next morning we were induced to send our things to
"When we were set down at the place where we were to
"The next day we tried to see
"We are expecting our baggage to-night. Called at Sampson Low's store to-day and found it full everywhere of red 'Dreds.'"
OXFORD HOUSE, _October_ 15, 1856.
DEAR MRS. STOWE,--The newspapers represent you as returning
to London, but I cannot wait for the chance, slender I fear, of seeing you
there, for I wish to consult you on a point admitting but of little delay.
Feeling that the sufferers in
Believe me, with kind regards to your daughters,
Your faithful and affectionate
A. T. NOEL BYRON.
To this note the following answer was promptly returned:--
DEAR LADY BYRON,--How glad I was to see your handwriting once more! how more than glad I should be to see _you_! I do long to see you. I have so much to say,--so much to ask, and need to be refreshed with a sense of a congenial and sympathetic soul.
Thank you, my dear friend, for your sympathy with our poor
Direct as usual to my publishers, and believe me, as ever, with all my heart,
H. B. S.
Having dispatched this note, Mrs. Stowe wrote to her husband concerning their surroundings and plans as follows:--
"_Friday, 16th_. Confusion in the camp! no baggage come, nobody knows why; running to stations, inquiries, messages, and no baggage. Meanwhile we have not even a clean collar, nothing but very soiled traveling dresses; while Lady Mary Labouchere writes that her carriage will wait for us at Slough Station this afternoon, and we must be off at two. What's to be done? Luckily I did not carry all my dresses to Dunrobin; so I, of all the party, have a dress that can be worn. We go out and buy collars and handkerchiefs, and two o'clock beholds us at the station house.
"_Stoke Park_. I arrived here
alone, the baggage not having yet been heard from. Mr. G., being found in
"I arrived alone at the Slough Station and found Lady Mary's carriage waiting. Away we drove through a beautiful park full of deer, who were so tame as to stand and look at us as we passed. The house is in the Italian style, with a dome on top, and wide terraces with stone balustrades around it.
"Lady Mary met me at the door, and seemed quite concerned to learn of our ill-fortune. We went through a splendid suite of rooms to a drawing-room, where a little tea-table was standing.
"After tea Lady Mary showed me my room. It had that delightful, homelike air of repose and comfort they succeed so well in giving to rooms here. There was a cheerful fire burning, an arm-chair drawn up beside it, a sofa on the other side with a neatly arranged sofa-table on which were writing materials. One of the little girls had put a pot of pretty greenhouse moss in a silver basket on this table, and my toilet cushion was made with a place in the centre to hold a little vase of flowers. Here Lady Mary left me to rest before dressing for dinner. I sat down in an easy-chair before the fire, and formed hospitable resolutions as to how I would try to make rooms always look homelike and pleasant to tired guests. Then came the maid to know if I wanted hot water,--if I wanted anything,--and by and by it was time for dinner. Going down into the parlor I met Mr. Labouchere and we all went in to dinner. It was not quite as large a party as at Dunrobin, but much in the same way. No company, but several ladies who were all family connections.
"The following morning Lord Dufferin and Lord Alfred
Paget, two gentlemen of the Queen's household, rode over from
"Lord Alfred is also very pleasant.
"Lady Mary prevailed on Lord Dufferin to stay and drive
with us after lunch, and we went over to Clifden, the duchess's villa, of which
we saw the photograph at Dunrobin. For grace and beauty some of the rooms in
this place exceed any I have yet seen in
"When we came back my first thought was whether Aunt Mary and the girls had come. Just as we were all going up to dress for dinner they appeared. Meanwhile, the Queen had sent over from Windsor for Lady Mary and her husband to dine with her that evening, and such invitations are understood as commands.
"So, although they themselves had invited four or five people to dinner, they had to go and leave us to entertain ourselves. Lady Mary was dressed very prettily in a flounced white silk dress with a pattern of roses woven round the bottom of each flounce, and looked very elegant. Mr. Labouchere wore breeches, with knee and shoe buckles sparkling with diamonds.
"They got home soon after we had left the drawing-room, as the Queen always retires at eleven. No late hours for her.
"The next day Lady Mary told me that the Queen had talked to her all about 'Dred,' and how she preferred it to 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' how interested she was in Nina, how provoked when she died, and how she was angry that something dreadful did not happen to Tom Gordon. She inquired for papa, and the rest of the family, all of whom she seemed to be well informed about.
"The next morning we had Lord Dufferin again to
breakfast. He is one of the most entertaining young men I have seen in
"Lord Dufferin says that his mother wrote him some verses on his coming of age, and that he built a tower for them and inscribed them on a brass plate. I recommend the example to you, Henry; make yourself the tower and your memory the brass plate.
"This morning came also, to call, Lady Augusta Bruce, Lord Elgin's daughter, one of the Duchess of Kent's ladies-in-waiting; a very excellent, sensible girl, who is a strong anti-slavery body.
"After lunch we drove over to
"Lady Mary stayed at our car door till it left the station, and handed in a beautiful bouquet as we parted. This is one of the loveliest visits I have made."
After filling a number of other pleasant engagements in
MY DEAR HUSBAND,--On the 28th, when your last was written, I was at Charles Kingsley's. It seemed odd enough to Mary and me to find ourselves, long after dark, alone in a hack, driving towards the house of a man whom we never had seen (nor his wife either).
My heart fluttered as, after rumbling a long way through the dark, we turned into a yard. We knocked at a door and were met in the hall by a man who stammers a little in his speech, and whose inquiry, "Is this Mrs. Stowe?" was our first positive introduction. Ushered into a large, pleasant parlor lighted by a coal fire, which flickered on comfortable chairs, lounges, pictures, statuettes, and book-cases, we took a good view of him. He is tall, slender, with blue eyes, brown hair, and a hale, well-browned face, and somewhat loose-jointed withal. His wife is a real Spanish beauty.
How we did talk and go on for three days! I guess he is tired. I'm sure we were. He is a nervous, excitable being, and talks with head, shoulders, arms, and hands, while his hesitance makes it the harder. Of his theology I will say more some other time. He, also, has been through the great distress, the "Conflict of Ages," but has come out at a different end from Edward, and stands with John Foster, though with more positiveness than he.
He laughed a good deal at many stories I told him of father, and seemed delighted to hear about him. But he is, what I did not expect, a zealous Churchman; insists that the Church of England is the finest and broadest platform a man can stand on, and that the thirty-nine articles are the only ones he could subscribe to. I told him you thought them the best summary (of doctrine) you knew, which pleased him greatly.
Well, I got your letter to-night in
There are twenty-one in the family, mostly Americans, like ourselves, come to learn to speak French. One of them is a tall, handsome, young English lady, Miss Durant, who is a sculptress, studying with Baron de Triqueti. She took me to his studio, and he immediately remarked that she ought to get me to sit. I said I would, "only my French lessons." "Oh," said he, smiling, "we will give you French lessons while you sit." So I go to-morrow morning.
As usual, my horrid pictures do me a service, and people seem relieved when they see me; think me even handsome "in a manner." Kingsley, in his relief, expressed as much to his wife, and as beauty has never been one of my strong points I am open to flattery upon it.
We had a most agreeable call from Arthur Helps before we
_Sunday night_. I fear I have delayed your letter too long. The fact is, that of the ten days I have been here I have been laid up three with severe neuralgia, viz., _toothache in the backbone_, and since then have sat all day to be modeled for my bust.
We spent the other evening with Baron de Triqueti, the
sculptor. He has an English wife, and a charming daughter about the age of our
girls. Life in
We have already three evenings in the week in which we can visit and meet friends if we choose, namely, at Madame Mohl's, Madame Lanziel's, and Madame Belloc's. All these salôns are informal, social gatherings, with no fuss of refreshments, no nonsense of any kind. Just the cheeriest, heartiest, kindest little receptions you ever saw.
A kiss to dear little Charley. If
he could see all the things that I see every day in the Tuileries and Champs
Elysées, he would go wild. All
_November_ 30. This is Sunday
evening, and a Sunday in
Last night we were at Baron de Triqueti's again, with a party invited to celebrate the birthday of their eldest daughter, Blanche, a lovely girl of nineteen. There were some good ladies there who had come eighty leagues to meet me, and who were so delighted with my miserable French that it was quite encouraging. I believe I am getting over the sandbar at last, and conversation is beginning to come easy to me.
There were three French gentlemen
who had just been reading "Dred" in English, and who were as excited
and full of it as could be, and I talked with them to a degree that astonished
myself. There is a review of "Dred" in the "Revue des Deux
Mondes" which has long extracts from the book, and is written in a very
appreciative and favorable spirit. Generally speaking, French critics seem to
have a finer appreciation of my subtle shades of meaning than English. I am
curious to hear what
We visit once a week at Madame Mohl's, where we meet all sorts of agreeable people. Lady Elgin doesn't go into society now, having been struck with paralysis, but sits at home and receives her friends as usual. This notion of sitting always in the open air is one of her peculiarities.
I must say, life in
It is wonderful that the people here do not seem to have got
over "Uncle Tom" a bit. The impression seems fresh as if just
published. How often have they said, That book has
revived the Gospel among the poor of
I went the other evening to M. Grand Pierre's, where there
were three rooms full of people, all as eager and loving as ever we met in
England or Scotland. Oh, if Christians in
Under date of December 28, Mrs. Perkins writes: "On Sunday we went with Mr. and Mrs. (Jacob) Abbott to the Hôtel des Invalides, and I think I was never more interested and affected. Three or four thousand old and disabled soldiers have here a beautiful and comfortable home. We went to the morning service. The church is very large, and the colors taken in battle are hung on the walls. Some of them are so old as to be moth-eaten. The service is performed, as near as possible, in imitation of the service before a battle. The drum beats the call to assemble, and the common soldiers march up and station themselves in the centre of the church, under the commander. All the services are regulated by the beat of the drum. Only one priest officiates, and soldiers are stationed around to protect him. The music is from a brass band, and is very magnificent.
"In the afternoon I went to vespers in the Madeleine, where the music was exquisite. They have two fine organs at opposite ends of the church. The 'Adeste Fidelis' was sung by a single voice, accompanied by the organ, and after every verse it was taken up by male voices and the other organ and repeated. The effect was wonderfully fine. I have always found in our small churches at home that the organ was too powerful and pained my head, but in these large cathedrals the effect is different. The volume of sound rolls over, full but soft, and I feel as though it must come from another sphere.
"In the evening Mr. and Mrs. Bunsen called. He is a son
of Chevalier Bunsen, and she a niece of
Under date of January 25, Mrs. Stowe writes from
"I have just completed arrangements for leaving the
girls at a Protestant boarding-school while I go to
"We expect to start the 1st of February, and my
direction will be,
EN ROUTE TO ROME.--TRIALS OF TRAVEL.--A MIDNIGHT ARRIVAL AND AN INHOSPITABLE RECEPTION.--GLORIES OP THE ETERNAL CITY.--NAPLES AND VESUVIUS.--VENICE.--HOLY WEEK IN ROME.--RETURN TO ENGLAND.--LETTER FROM HARRIET MARTINEAU ON "DRED."--A WORD FROM MR. PRESCOTT ON "DRED."--FAREWELL TO LADY BYRON.
After leaving Paris Mrs. Stowe and her sister, Mrs. Perkins,
traveled leisurely through the South of France toward
About eleven o'clock, as I had just tranquilly laid down in my berth, I was roused by a grating crash,
accompanied by a shock that shook the whole ship, and followed by the sound of
a general rush on deck, trampling, scuffling, and cries. I rushed to the door
and saw all the gentlemen hurrying on their clothes and getting confusedly towards
the stairway. I went back to Mary, and we put on our things in silence, and, as
soon as we could, got into the upper saloon. It was an hour before we could
learn anything certainly, except that we had run into another vessel. The fate
We went limping along with one broken limb till the next day
about eleven, when we reached Civita Vecchia, where there were two hours more
of delay about passports. Then we, that is, Mary and I, and a Dr. Edison from
Then there was another consultation. They put a bit of
rotten timber under to pry the carriage up. Fortunately, it did not break, as
we all expected it would, till after the wheel was on. Then a new train of
thought was suggested. How was it to be kept on? Evidently they had not thought
far in that direction, for they had brought neither hammer nor nail, nor tool
of any kind, and therefore they looked first at the wheel, then at each other,
and then at us. The doctor now produced a little gimlet, with the help of which
the broken fragments of the former linchpin were pushed out, and the way was
cleared for a new one. Then they began knocking a fence to pieces to get out
nails, but none could be found to fit. At last another ambassador was sent back
for nails. While we were thus waiting, the diligence, in which many of our
ship's company were jogging on to
An interesting little episode here occurred. It was raining, and Mary and I proposed, as the wheel was now on, to take our seats. We had no sooner done so than the horses were taken with a sudden fit of animation and ran off with us in the most vivacious manner, Tag, Rag, and Co. shouting in the rear. Some heaps of stone a little in advance presented an interesting prospect by way of a terminus. However, the horses were luckily captured before the wheel was off again; and our ambassador being now returned, we were set right and again proceeded.
I must not forget to remark that at every post where we changed horses and drivers, we had a pitched battle with the driver for more money than we had been told was the regular rate, and the carriage was surrounded with a perfect mob of ragged, shock-headed, black-eyed people, whose words all ended in "ino," and who raved and ranted at us till finally we paid much more than we ought, to get rid of them.
At the gates of
We drove to the Hotel d'Angleterre,--it was full,--and ditto
to four or five others, and in the last effort our
refractory wheel came off again, and we all got out into the street. About a
dozen lean, ragged "corbies," who are called porters and who are
always lying in wait for travelers, pounced upon us. They took down our baggage
in a twinkling, and putting it all into the street surrounded it, and chattered
over it, while M. and I stood in the rain and received first lessons in
Italian. How we did try to say something! but they
couldn't talk anything but in "ino" as aforesaid. The doctor finally
found a man who could speak a word or two of French, and leaving Mary, Alfred,
and me to keep watch over our pile of trunks, he went
off with him to apply for lodgings. I have heard many flowery accounts of first
A young man came by and addressed us in English. How
cheering! We almost flew upon him. We begged him, at least, to lend us his
Italian to call another carriage, and he did so. A carriage which was passing
was luckily secured, and Mary and I, with all our store of boxes and little
parcels, were placed in it out of the rain, at least. Here we sat while the
doctor from time to time returned from his wanderings to tell us he could find no
place. "Can it be," said I, "that we
are to be obliged to spend a night in the streets?" What made it seem more odd was the knowledge that, could we only find them, we
had friends enough in
We alighted at a dirty stone passage, smelling of cats and onions, damp, cold, and earthy, we went up stone stairways, and at last were ushered into two very decent chambers, where we might lay our heads. The "corbies" all followed us,--black-haired, black-browed, ragged, and clamorous as ever. They insisted that we should pay the pretty little sum of twenty francs, or four dollars, for bringing our trunks about twenty steps. The doctor modestly but firmly declined to be thus imposed upon, and then ensued a general "chatteration;" one and all fell into attitudes, and the "inos" and "issimos" rolled freely. "For pity's sake get them off," we said; so we made a truce for ten francs, but still they clamored, forced their way even into our bedroom, and were only repulsed by a loud and combined volley of "No, no, noes!" which we all set up at once, upon which they retreated.
Our hostess was a little French woman, and that reassured us. I examined the room, and seeing no trace of treacherous testers, or trap-doors, resolved to avail myself without fear of the invitation of a very clean, white bed, where I slept till morning without dreaming.
The next day we sent our cards to M. Bartholimeu, and before we had finished breakfast he was on the spot. We then learned that he had been watching the diligence office for over a week, and that he had the pleasant set of apartments we are now occupying all ready and waiting for us.
MY DEAR HUSBAND,--Every day is opening to me a new world of
wonders here in
Think of strolling leisurely through the Forum, of seeing the very stones that were laid in the time of the Republic, of rambling over the ruined Palace of the Cæsars, of walking under the Arch of Titus, of seeing the Dying Gladiator, and whole ranges of rooms filled with wonders of art, all in one morning! All this I did on Saturday, and only wanted you. You know so much more and could appreciate so much better. At the Palace of the Cæesars, where the very dust is a _mélange_ of exquisite marbles, I saw for the first time an acanthus growing, and picked my first leaf.
Our little _ménage_ moves on prosperously; the doctor takes
excellent care of us and we of him. One sees everybody
You will hear next from us at
H. B. S.
"Gradually the ascent became steeper and steeper, till
at length it was all our horses could do to pull us up. The treatment of horses
"As the ascent of the mountain became steeper, the horses panted and trembled in a way that made us feel that we could not sit in the carriage, yet the guide and driver never made the slightest motion to leave the box. At last three of us got out and walked, and invited our guide to do the same, yet with all this relief the last part of the ascent was terrible, and the rascally fellows actually forced the horses to it by beating them with long poles on the back of their legs. No Englishman or American would ever allow a horse to be treated so.
"The Hermitage is a small cabin, where one can buy a little wine or any other refreshment one may need. There is a species of wine made of the grapes of Vesuvius, called 'Lachryma Christi,' that has a great reputation. Here was a miscellaneous collection of beggars, ragged boys, men playing guitars, bawling donkey drivers, and people wanting to sell sticks or minerals, the former to assist in the ascent, and the latter as specimens of the place. In the midst of the commotion we were placed on our donkeys, and the serious, pensive brutes moved away. At last we reached the top of the mountain, and I gladly sprang on firm land. The whole top of the mountain was covered with wavering wreaths of smoke, from the shadows of which emerged two English gentlemen, who congratulated us on our safe arrival, and assured us that we were fortunate in our day, as the mountain was very active. We could hear a hollow, roaring sound, like the burning of a great furnace, but saw nothing. 'Is this all?' I said. 'Oh, no. Wait till the guide comes up with the rest of the party,' and soon one after another came up, and we then followed the guide up a cloudy, rocky path, the noise of the fire constantly becoming nearer. Finally we stood on the verge of a vast, circular pit about forty feet deep, the floor of which is of black, ropy waves of congealed lava.
"The sides are sulphur cliffs, stained in every brilliant shade, from lightest yellow to deepest orange and brown. In the midst of the lava floor rises a black cone, the chimney of the great furnace. This was burning and flaming like the furnace of a glass-house, and every few moments throwing up showers of cinders and melted lava which fell with a rattling sound on the black floor of the pit. One small bit of the lava came over and fell at our feet, and a gentleman lighted his cigar at it.
"All around where we stood the smoke was issuing from every chance rent and fissure of the rock, and the Neapolitans who crowded round us were every moment soliciting us to let them cook us an egg in one of these rifts, and, overcome by persuasion, I did so, and found it very nicely boiled, or rather steamed, though the shell tasted of Glauber's salt and sulphur.
"The whole place recalled to my mind so vividly
"On the way down the mountain our ladies astonished the natives by making an express stipulation that our donkeys were not to be beaten,--why, they could not conjecture. The idea of any feeling of compassion for an animal is so foreign to a Neapolitan's thoughts that they supposed it must be some want of courage on our part. When, once in a while, the old habit so prevailed that the boy felt that he must strike the donkey, and when I forbade him, he would say, 'Courage, signora, courage.'
"Time would fail me to tell the whole of our adventures
"We went by water from
"_Venice_. The great trouble
of traveling in
"It was a rainy evening when our cars rumbled over the long railroad bridge across the lagoon that leads to the station. Nothing but flat, dreary swamps, and then the wide expanse of sea on either side. The cars stopped, and the train, being a long one, left us a little out of the station. We got out in a driving rain, in company with flocks of Austrian soldiers, with whom the third-class cars were filled. We went through a long passage, and emerged into a room where all nations seemed commingling; Italians, Germans, French, Austrians, Orientals, all in wet weather trim.
"Soon, however, the news was brought that our baggage was looked out and our gondolas ready.
"The first plunge under the low, black hood of a
gondola, especially of a rainy night, has something funereal in it. Four of us
sat cowering together, and looked, out of the rain-dropped little windows at
the sides, at the scene. Gondolas of all sizes were gliding up and down, with
their sharp, fishy-looking prows of steel pushing their ways silently among
each other, while gondoliers shouted and jabbered, and made as much confusion
in their way as terrestrial hackmen on dry land. Soon, however, trunks and
carpet-bags being adjusted, we pushed off, and went gliding away up the
"_Lake Como_. We stayed in
"'What do you think of it?'
"Certainly no thoughtful or sensitive person, no person impressible either through the senses or the religious feelings, can fail to feel it deeply.
"In the first place, the mere fact of the different nations of the earth moving, so many of them, with one accord, to so old and venerable a city, to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, is something in itself affecting. Whatever dispute there may be about the other commemorative feasts of Christendom, the time of this epoch is fixed unerringly by the Jews' Passover. That great and solemn feast, therefore, stands as an historical monument to mark the date of the most important and thrilling events which this world ever witnessed.
"When one sees the city filling with strangers, pilgrims arriving on foot, the very shops decorating themselves in expectancy, every church arranging its services, the prices even of temporal matters raised by the crowd and its demands, he naturally thinks, Wherefore, why is all this? and he must be very careless indeed if it do not bring to mind, in a more real way than before, that at this very time, so many years ago, Christ and his apostles were living actors in the scenes thus celebrated to-day."
As the spring was now well advanced, it was deemed advisable
to bring this pleasant journey to a close, and for Mrs. Stowe at least it was
imperative that she return to
"John Hooker is here, so Mary is going with him and
some others for a few weeks into
Having established her daughters in a Protestant
AMBLESIDE, _June_ 1.
DEAR MRS. STOWE,--I have been at my wits' end to learn how
to reach you, as your note bore no direction but "
The weather and scenery are usually splendid just now. Did I
see you (in white frock and black silk apron) when I was in
Do you know I rather dreaded reading your book! Sick people
_are_ weak: and one of my chief weaknesses is dislike of novels,--(except some
old ones which I almost know by heart). I knew that with you I should be safe
from the cobweb-spinning of our modern subjective novelists and the jaunty
vulgarity of our "funny philosophers"--the Dickens sort, who have
tired us out. But I dreaded the alternative,--the too strong interest. But oh! the delight I have had in "Dred!" The genius
carries all before it, and drowns everything in glorious pleasure. So marked a
work of genius claims exemption from every sort of comparison; but, _as you ask
for my opinion of the book_, you may like to know that I think it far superior
to "Uncle Tom." I have no doubt that a multitude of people will say
it is a falling off, because they made up their minds that any new book of
yours must be inferior to that, and because it is so rare a thing for a
prodigious fame to be sustained by a second book; but, in my own mind I am entirely
convinced that the second book is by far the best. Such faults as you have are
in the artistic department, and there is less defect
in "Dred" than in "Uncle Tom," and the whole material and
treatment seem to me richer and more substantial. I have had critiques of
"Dred" from the two very wisest people I know--perfectly unlike each
other (the critics, I mean), and they delight me by thinking exactly like each
other and like me. They distinctly prefer it to "Uncle Tom." To say
the plain truth, it seems to me so splendid a work of genius that nothing that
I can say can give you an idea of the intensity of admiration with which I read
it. It seemed to me, as I told my nieces, that our English fiction writers had
better shut up altogether and have done with it, for one will have no patience
with any but didactic writing after yours. My nieces (and you may have heard
that Maria, my nurse, is very, very clever) are thoroughly possessed with the
book, and Maria says she feels as if a fresh department of human life had been
opened to her since this day week. I feel the freshness no less, while, from my
travels, I can be even more assured of the truthfulness of your wonderful
representation. I see no limit to the good it may do by suddenly splitting open
Southern life, for everybody to look into. It is precisely the thing that is
most wanted,--just as "Uncle Tom" was wanted, three years since, to
show what negro slavery in your republic was like. It
is plantation-life, particularly in the present case, that
I mean. As for your exposure of the weakness and helplessness to the churches,
I deeply honor you for the courage with which you have made the exposure; but I
don't suppose that any amendment is to be looked for in that direction. You
have unburdened your own soul in that matter, and if they had been corrigible,
you would have helped a good many more. But I don't expect that result. The
Southern railing at you will be something unequaled, I suppose. I hear that
three of us have the honor of being abused from day to day already, as most
portentous and shocking women, you, Mrs. Chapman, and myself
as (the traveler of twenty years ago). Not only newspapers, but pamphlets of
such denunciation are circulated, I'm told. I'm afraid now I, and even Mrs.
Chapman, must lose our fame, and all the railing will be engrossed by you. My
little function is to keep English people tolerably right, by means of a
Believe me gratefully and affectionately yours,
In London Mrs. Stowe also received the following letter from Prescott, the historian, which after long wandering had finally rested quietly at her English publishers awaiting her coming.
PEPPERELL, _October_ 4, 1856.
MY DEAR MRS. STOWE,--I am much obliged to you for the copy of "Dred" which Mr. Phillips put into my hands. It has furnished us our evening's amusement since we have been in the country, where we spend the brilliant month of October.
The African race are much indebted to you for showing up the good sides of their characters, their cheerfulness, and especially their powers of humor, which are admirably set off by their peculiar _patois_, in the same manner as the expression of the Scottish sentiment is by the peculiar Scottish dialect. People differ; but I was most struck among your characters with Uncle Tiff and Nina. The former a variation of good old Uncle Tom, though conceived in a merrier vein than belonged to that sedate personage; the difference of their tempers in this respect being well suited to the difference of the circumstances in which they were placed. But Nina, to my mind, is the true _hero_ of the book, which I should have named after her instead of "Dred." She is indeed a charming conception, full of what is called character, and what is masculine in her nature is toned down by such a delightful sweetness and kindness of disposition as makes her perfectly fascinating. I cannot forgive you for smothering her so prematurely. No _dramatis personæ_ could afford the loss of such a character. But I will not bore you with criticism, of which you have had quite enough. I must thank you, however, for giving Tom Gordon a guttapercha cane to perform his flagellations with.
I congratulate you on the brilliant success of the work,
unexampled even in this age of authorship; and, as Mr. Phillips informs me,
greater even in the old country than in ours. I am glad you are likely to
settle the question and show that a Yankee writer can get a copyright in
With sincere regard, believe me, dear Mrs. Stowe,
Very truly yours,
WM. H. PRESCOTT.
From Liverpool, on the eve of her departure for
I spent the day before leaving
I want you to tell Aunt Mary that Mr. Ruskin lives with his father at a place called Denmark Hill, Camberwell. He has told me that the gallery of Turner pictures there is open to me or my friends at any time of the day or night. Both young and old Mr. Ruskin are fine fellows, sociable and hearty, and will cordially welcome any of my friends who desire to look at their pictures.
I write in haste, as I must be aboard the ship tomorrow at eight o'clock. So good-by, my dear girls, from your ever affectionate mother.
Her last letter written before sailing was to Lady Byron, and serves to show how warm an intimacy had sprung up between them. It was as follows:--
_June_ 5, 1857.
DEAR FRIEND,--I left you with a strange sort of yearning, throbbing feeling--you make me feel quite as I did years ago, a sort of girlishness quite odd for me. I have felt a strange longing to send you something. Don't smile when you see what it turns out to be. I have a weakness for your pretty Parian things; it is one of my own home peculiarities to have strong passions for pretty tea-cups and other little matters for my own quiet meals, when, as often happens, I am too unwell to join the family. So I send you a cup made of primroses, a funny little pitcher, quite large enough for cream, and a little vase for violets and primroses--which will be lovely together--and when you use it think of me and that I love you more than I can say.
I often think how strange it is that I should _know_ you--you who were a sort of legend of my early days--that I should love you is only a natural result. You seem to me to stand on the confines of that land where the poor formalities which separate hearts here pass like mist before the sun, and therefore it is that I feel the language of love must not startle you as strange or unfamiliar. You are so nearly there in spirit that I fear with every adieu that it may be the last; yet did you pass within the veil I should not feel you lost.
I have got past the time when I feel that my heavenly friends are _lost_ by going there. I feel them _nearer_, rather than farther off.
So good-by, dear, dear friend, and if you see morning in our Father's house before I do, carry my love to those that wait for me, and if I pass first, you will find me there, and we shall love each other _forever_.
H. B. STOWE.
The homeward voyage proved a prosperous one, and it was
followed by a joyous welcome to the "Cabin" in
DEATH OF MRS. STOWE'S OLDEST SON.--LETTER TO THE DUCHESS OF
SUTHERLAND.--LETTER TO HER DAUGHTERS IN PARIS.--LETTER TO HER SISTER
Immediately after Mrs. Stowe's return from
DEAR FRIEND,--Before this reaches you you will have perhaps learned from other sources of the sad blow which has fallen upon us,--our darling, our good, beautiful boy, snatched away in the moment of health and happiness. Alas! could I know that when I parted from my Henry on English shores that I should never see him more? I returned to my home, and, amid the jubilee of meeting the rest, was fain to be satisfied with only a letter from him, saying that his college examinations were coming on, and he must defer seeing me a week or two till they were over. I thought then of taking his younger brother and going up to visit him; but the health of the latter seeming unfavorably affected by the seacoast air, I turned back with him to a water-cure establishment. Before I had been two weeks absent a fatal telegram hurried me home, and when I arrived there it was to find the house filled with his weeping classmates, who had just come bringing his remains. There he lay so calm, so placid, so peaceful, that I could not believe that he would not smile upon me, and that my voice which always had such power over him could not recall him. There had always been such a peculiar union, such a tenderness between us. I had had such power always to call up answering feelings to my own, that it seemed impossible that he could be silent and unmoved at my grief. But yet, dear friend, I am sensible that in this last sad scene I had an alleviation that was not granted to you. I recollect, in the mournful letter you wrote me about that time, you said that you mourned that you had never told your own dear one how much you loved him. That sentence touched me at the time. I laid it to heart, and from that time lost no occasion of expressing to my children those feelings that we too often defer to express to our dearest friends till it is forever too late.
He did fully know how I loved him, and some of the last loving words he spoke were of me. The very day that he was taken from us, and when he was just rising from the table of his boarding-house to go whence he never returned, some one noticed the seal ring, which you may remember to have seen on his finger, and said, How beautiful that ring is! Yes, he said, and best of all, it was my mother's gift to me. That ring, taken from the lifeless hand a few hours later, was sent to me. Singularly enough, it is broken right across the name from a fall a little time previous. . . .
It is a great comfort to me, dear friend,
that I took Henry with me to Dunrobin. I hesitated about keeping him so
long from his studies, but still I thought a mind so observing and appreciative
might learn from such a tour more than through books, and so it was. He
. . . Well, from the hard battle of this life he is excused,
and the will is taken for the deed, and whatever comes his heart will not be
pierced as mine is. But I am glad that I can connect him with all my choicest
remembrances of the
Dunrobin will always be dearer to me now, and I have felt towards you and the duke a turning of spirit, because I remember how kindly you always looked on and spoke to him. I knew then it was the angel of your lost one that stirred your hearts with tenderness when you looked on another so near his age. The plaid that the duke gave him, and which he valued as one of the chief of his boyish treasures, will hang in his room--for still we have a room that we call his.
You will understand, you will feel, this sorrow with us as
few can. My poor husband is much prostrated. I need not say more: you know what
this must be to a father's heart. But still I repeat what I said when I saw you
last. Our dead are ministering angels; they teach us to love, they fill us with
tenderness for all that can suffer. These weary hours when
sorrow makes us for the time blind and deaf and dumb, have their promise.
These hours come in answer to our prayers for nearness to God. It is always our
treasure that the lightning strikes. . . . I have poured out my heart to you
because you can understand. While I was visiting in
What are our mother sorrows to this! I shall try to search out and redeem these children, though, from the ill success of efforts already made, I fear it will be hopeless. Every sorrow I have, every lesson on the sacredness of family love, makes me the more determined to resist to the last this dreadful evil that makes so many mothers so much deeper mourners than I ever can be. . . .
H. B. STOWE.
[Illustration: THE DUCHESS OF SUTHERLAND]
About this same time she writes to her daughters in
"Two days after the funeral your father and I went to
"'There is not another such room in the college as his,' said one of his classmates with tears. I could not help loving the dear boys as they would come and look sadly in, and tell us one thing and another that they remembered of him. 'He was always talking of his home and his sisters,' said one. The very day he died he was so happy because I had returned, and he was expecting soon to go home and meet me. He died with that dear thought in his heart.
"There was a beautiful lane leading down through a charming glen to the river. It had been for years the bathing-place of the students, and into the pure, clear water he plunged, little dreaming that he was never to come out alive.
"In the evening we went down to see the boating club of which he was a member. He was so happy in this boating club. They had a beautiful boat called the Una, and a uniform, and he enjoyed it so much.
"This evening all the different crews were out; but Henry's had their flag furled, and tied with black crape. I felt such love to the dear boys, all of them, because they loved Henry, that it did not pain me as it otherwise would. They were glad to see us there, and I was glad that we could be there. Yet right above where their boats were gliding in the evening light lay the bend in the river, clear, still, beautiful, fringed with overhanging pines, from whence our boy went upward to heaven. To heaven--if earnest, manly purpose, if sincere, deliberate strife with besetting sin is accepted of God, as I firmly believe it is. Our dear boy was but a beginner in the right way. Had he lived, we had hoped to see all wrong gradually fall from his soul as the worn-out calyx drops from the perfected flower. But Christ has taken him into his own teaching.
"'And one view of Jesus as He is, Will strike all sin forever dead.'
"Since I wrote to you last we have had anniversary meetings, and with all the usual bustle and care, our house full of company. Tuesday we received a beautiful portrait of our dear Henry, life-size, and as perfect almost as life. It has just that half-roguish, half-loving expression with which he would look at me sometimes, when I would come and brush back his hair and look into his eyes. Every time I go in or out of the room, it seems to give so bright a smile that I almost think that a spirit dwells within it.
"When I am so heavy, so weary, and go about as if I were wearing an arrow that had pierced my heart, I sometimes look up, and this smile seems to say, 'Mother, patience, I am happy. In our Father's house are many mansions.' Sometimes I think I am like a gardener who has planted the seed of some rare exotic. He watches as the two little points of green leaf first spring above the soil. He shifts it from soil to soil, from pot to pot. He watches it, waters it, saves it through thousands of mischiefs and accidents. He counts every leaf, and marks the strengthening of the stem, till at last the blossom bud was fully formed. What curiosity, what eagerness,--what expectation--what longing now to see the mystery unfold in the new flower.
"Just as the calyx begins to divide and a faint streak of color becomes visible,--lo! in one night the owner of the greenhouse sends and takes it away. He does not consult me, he gives me no warning; he silently takes it and I look, but it is no more. What, then? Do I suppose he has destroyed the flower? Far from it; I know that he has taken it to his own garden. What Henry might have been I could guess better than any one. What Henry is, is known to Jesus only."
Shortly after this time Mrs. Stowe wrote to her sister Catherine:--
If ever I was conscious of an attack of the Devil trying to separate me from the love of Christ, it was for some days after the terrible news came. I was in a state of great physical weakness, most agonizing, and unable to control my thoughts. Distressing doubts as to Henry's spiritual state were rudely thrust upon my soul. It was as if a voice had said to me: "You trusted in God, did you? You believed that He loved you! You had perfect confidence that he would never take your child till the work of grace was mature! Now He has hurried him into eternity without a moment's warning, without preparation, and where is he?"
I saw at last that these thoughts were irrational, and contradicted the calm, settled belief of my better moments, and that they were dishonorable to God, and that it was my duty to resist them, and to assume and steadily maintain that Jesus in love had taken my dear one to his bosom. Since then the Enemy has left me in peace.
It is our duty to assume that a thing which would be in its very nature unkind, ungenerous, and unfair has not been done. What should we think of the crime of that human being who should take a young mind from circumstances where it was progressing in virtue, and throw it recklessly into corrupting and depraving society? Particularly if it were the child of one who had trusted and confided in Him for years. No! no such slander as this shall the Devil ever fix in my mind against my Lord and my God! He who made me capable of such an absorbing, unselfish devotion for my children, so that I would sacrifice my eternal salvation for them, He certainly did not make me capable of more love, more disinterestedness than He has himself. He invented mothers' hearts, and He certainly has the pattern in his own, and my poor, weak rush-light of love is enough to show me that some things can and some things cannot be done. Mr. Stowe said in his sermon last Sunday that the mysteries of God's ways with us must be swallowed up by the greater mystery of the love of Christ, even as Aaron's rod swallowed up the rods of the magicians.
Papa and mamma are here, and we have been reading over the "Autobiography and Correspondence." It is glorious, beautiful; but more of this anon.
Your affectionate sister,
DEAR CHILDREN,--Since anniversary papa and I have been living at home; Grandpa and Grandma Beecher are here also, and we have had much comfort in their society. . . . To-night the last sad duty is before us. The body is to be removed from the receiving tomb in the Old South Churchyard, and laid in the graveyard near by. Pearson has been at work for a week on a lot that is to be thenceforth ours.
"Our just inheritance consecrated by his grave."
How little he thought, wandering there as he often has with us, that his mortal form would so soon be resting there. Yet that was written for him. It was as certain then as now, and the hour and place of our death is equally certain, though we know it not.
It seems selfish that I should yearn to lie down by his side, but I never knew how much I loved him till now.
The one lost piece of silver seems more than all the rest,--the one lost sheep dearer than all the fold, and I so long for one word, one look, one last embrace. . . .
MY DARLING CHILDREN,--I must not allow a week to pass
without sending a line to you. . . . Our home never looked lovelier. I never
MY DEAR GIRLS,--Papa and I have been here for four or five
days past. We both of us felt so unwell that we thought we would try the sea
air and the dear old scenes of
We went into the sea to bathe twice, once the day we came, and about eight o'clock in the morning before we went
back. Besides this we have been to
I do not realize that one of the busiest and happiest of the train who once played there shall play there no more. "He shall return to his house no more, neither shall his place know him any more." I think I have felt the healing touch of Jesus of Nazareth on the deep wound in my heart, for I have golden hours of calm when I say: "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight." So sure am I that the most generous love has ordered all, that I can now take pleasure to give this little proof of my unquestioning confidence in resigning one of my dearest comforts to Him. I feel very near the spirit land, and the words, "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me," are very sweet.
Oh, if God would give to you, my dear children, a view of the infinite beauty of Eternal Love,--if He would unite us in himself, then even on earth all tears might be wiped away.
Papa has preached twice to-day, and is preaching again to-night. He told me to be sure to write and send you his love. I hope his health is getting better. Mrs. Upham sends you her best love, and hopes you will make her a visit some time.
Good-by, my darlings. Come soon to your affectionate mother.
H. B. S.
The winter of 1857 was passed quietly and uneventfully at
In December, 1858, the first chapter of "The Minister's
Wooing" appeared in the same magazine. Simultaneously with this story was
written "The Pearl of Orr's
She dictated a large part of "The Minister's
Wooing" under a great pressure of mental excitement, and it was a relief
to her to turn to the quiet story of the coast of
In February, 1874, Mrs. Stowe received the following words
from Mr. Whittier, which are very interesting in this connection: "When I
am in the mood for thinking deeply I read 'The Minister's Wooing.'
But 'The Pearl of Orr's
"The Minister's Wooing" was received with universal commendation from the first, and called forth the following appreciative words from the pen of Mr. James Russell Lowell:--
"It has always seemed to us that the anti-slavery element in the two former novels by Mrs. Stowe stood in the way of a full appreciation of her remarkable genius, at least in her own country. It was so easy to account for the unexampled popularity of 'Uncle Tom' by attributing it to a cheap sympathy with sentimental philanthropy! As people began to recover from the first enchantment, they began also to resent it and to complain that a dose of that insane Garrison-root which takes the reason prisoner had been palmed upon them without their knowing it, and that their ordinary watergruel of fiction, thinned with sentiment and thickened with moral, had been hocussed with the bewildering hasheesh of Abolition. We had the advantage of reading that truly extraordinary book for the first time in Paris, long after the whirl of excitement produced by its publication had subsided, in the seclusion of distance, and with a judgment unbiased by those political sympathies which it is impossible, perhaps unwise, to avoid at home. We felt then, and we believe now, that the secret of Mrs. Stowe's power lay in that same genius by which the great successes in creative literature have always been achieved,--the genius that instinctively goes right to the organic elements of human nature, whether under a white skin or a black, and which disregards as trivial the conventional and factitious notions which make so large a part both of our thinking and feeling. Works of imagination written with an aim to immediate impression are commonly ephemeral, like Miss Martineau's 'Tales,' and Elliott's 'Corn-law Rhymes;' but the creative faculty of Mrs. Stowe, like that of Cervantes in 'Don Quixote' and of Fielding in 'Joseph Andrews,' overpowered the narrow specialty of her design, and expanded a local and temporary theme with the cosmopolitanism of genius.
"It is a proverb that 'There is a great deal of human
nature in men,' but it is equally and sadly true that there is amazingly little
of it in books. Fielding is the only English novelist who deals with life in
its broadest sense. Thackeray, his disciple and congener, and Dickens, the
congener of Smollett, do not so much treat of life as of the strata of society;
the one studying nature from the club-room window, the other from the
reporters' box in the police court. It may be that the general obliteration of
distinctions of rank in this country, which is generally considered a detriment
to the novelist, will in the end turn to his advantage by compelling him to
depend for his effects on the contrasts and collisions of innate character,
rather than on those shallower traits superinduced by particular social
arrangements, or by hereditary associations. Shakespeare drew ideal, and
Fielding natural men and women; Thackeray draws either gentlemen or snobs, and
Dickens either unnatural men or the oddities natural only in the lowest grades
of a highly artificial system of society. The first two knew human nature; of
the two latter, one knows what is called the world, and the other the streets
"We hope to see this problem solved by Mrs. Stowe. That kind of romantic interest which Scott evolved from the relations of lord and vassal, of thief and clansman, from the social more than the moral contrast of Roundhead and Cavalier, of far-descended pauper and _nouveau riche_ which Cooper found in the clash of savagery with civilization, and the shaggy virtue bred on the border-land between the two, Indian by habit, white by tradition, Mrs. Stowe seems in her former novels to have sought in a form of society alien to her sympathies, and too remote for exact study, or for the acquirement of that local truth which is the slow result of unconscious observation. There can be no stronger proof of the greatness of her genius, of her possessing that conceptive faculty which belongs to the higher order of imagination, than the avidity with which 'Uncle Tom' was read at the South. It settled the point that this book was true to human nature, even if not minutely so to plantation life.
"If capable of so great a triumph where success must so
largely depend on the sympathetic insight of her mere creative power, have we
not a right to expect something far more in keeping with the requirements of
art, now that her wonderful eye is to be the mirror of familiar scenes, and of
a society in which she was bred, of which she has seen so many varieties, and
that, too, in the country, where it is most _naive_ and original? It is a great
satisfaction to us that in 'The Minister's Wooing' she
has chosen her time and laid her scene amid
"We think we find in the story, so far as it has proceeded, the promise of an interest as unhackneyed as it will be intense. There is room for the play of all the passions and interests that make up the great tragi-comedy of life, while all the scenery and accessories will be those which familiarity has made dear to us. We are a little afraid of Colonel Burr, to be sure, it is so hard to make a historical personage fulfill the conditions demanded by the novel of every-day life. He is almost sure either to fall below our traditional conception of him, or to rise above the natural and easy level of character, into the vague or the melodramatic. Moreover, we do not want a novel of society from Mrs. Stowe; she is quite too good to be wasted in that way, and her tread is much more firm on the turf of the "door-yard" or the pasture, and the sanded floor of the farmhouse, than on the velvet of the _salôn_. We have no notion how she is to develop her plot, but we think we foresee chances for her best power in the struggle which seems foreshadowed between Mary's conscientious admiration of the doctor and her half-conscious passion for James, before she discovers that one of these conflicting feelings means simply moral liking and approval, and the other that she is a woman and that she loves. And is not the value of dogmatic theology as a rule of life to be thoroughly tested for the doctor by his slave-trading parishioners? Is he not to learn the bitter difference between intellectual acceptance of a creed and that true partaking of the sacrament of love and faith and sorrow that makes Christ the very life-blood of our being and doing? And has not James Marvyn also his lesson to be taught? We foresee him drawn gradually back by Mary from his recoil against Puritan formalism to a perception of how every creed is pliant and plastic to a beautiful nature, of how much charm there may be in an hereditary faith, even if it have become almost conventional.
"In the materials of character already present in the
story, there is scope for Mrs. Stowe's humor, pathos, clear moral sense, and
quick eye for the scenery of life. We do not believe that there is any one who,
by birth, breeding, and natural capacity, has had the
opportunity to know
"The Minister's Wooing" was not completed as a serial till December, 1859. Long before its completion Mrs. Stowe received letters from many interested readers, who were as much concerned for the future of her "spiritual children," as George Eliot would call them, as if they had been flesh and blood.
The following letter from Mr. Lowell is given as the most valuable received by Mrs. Stowe at this time:--
MY DEAR MRS. STOWE,--I certainly did mean to write you about
your story, but only to cry _bravissima!_ with the
rest of the world. I intended no kind of criticism; deeming it wholly out of
place, and in the nature of a wet-blanket, so long as a story is unfinished.
When I got the first number in MS., I said to Mr. Phillips that I thought it
would be the best thing you had done, and what followed has only confirmed my
first judgment. From long habit, and from the tendency of my studies, I cannot
help looking at things purely from an æsthetic point of view, and what _I_
valued in "Uncle Tom" was the genius, and
not the moral. That is saying a good deal, for I never use the word _genius_ at
haphazard, and always (perhaps, too) sparingly. I am going to be as frank as I
ought to be with one whom I value so highly. What especially charmed me in the
new story was, that you had taken your stand on
I always thought (forgive me) that the Hebrew parts of "Dred" were a mistake. Do not think me impertinent; I am only honestly anxious that what I consider a very remarkable genius should have faith in itself. Let your moral take care of itself, and remember that an author's writing-desk is something infinitely higher than a pulpit. What I call "care of itself" is shown in that noble passage in the February number about the ladder up to heaven. That is grand preaching and in the right way. I am sure that "The Minister's Wooing" is going to be the best of your products hitherto, and I am sure of it because you show so thorough a mastery of your material, so true a perception of realities, without which the ideality is impossible.
As for "orthodoxy," be at ease. Whatever is well done the world finds orthodox at last, in spite of all the Fakir journals, whose only notion of orthodoxy seems to be the power of standing in one position till you lose all the use of your limbs. If, with your heart and brain, _you_ are not orthodox, in Heaven's name who is? If you mean "Calvinistic," no woman could ever be such, for Calvinism is logic, and no woman worth the name could ever live by syllogisms. Woman charms a higher faculty in us than reason, God be praised, and nothing has delighted me more in your new story than the happy instinct with which you develop this incapacity of the lovers' logic in your female characters. Go on just as you have begun, and make it appear in as many ways as you like,--that, whatever creed may be true, it is _not_ true and never will be that man can be saved by machinery. I can speak with some chance of being right, for I confess a strong sympathy with many parts of Calvinistic theology, and, for one thing, believe in hell with all my might, and in the goodness of God for all that.
I have not said anything. What could I say? One might almost as well advise a mother about the child she still bears under her heart, and say, give it these and those qualities, as an author about a work yet in the brain.
Only this I will say, that I am honestly delighted with
"The Minister's Wooing;" that reading it has been one of my few
editorial pleasures; that no one appreciates your genius more highly than I, or
hopes more fervently that you will let yourself go without regard to this,
that, or t'other. Don't read any criticisms on your story: believe that you
know better than any of us, and be sure that everybody likes it. That I know.
There is not, and never was, anybody so competent to write a true
Faithfully and admiringly yours,
J. K. LOWELL.
After the book was published in
"Well, I have read the book now, and I think nothing can be nobler than the noble parts of it (Mary's great speech to Colonel Burr, for instance), nothing wiser than the wise parts of it (the author's parenthetical and under-breath remarks), nothing more delightful than the delightful parts (all that Virginie says and does), nothing more edged than the edged parts (Candace's sayings and doings, to wit); but I do not like the plan of the whole, because the simplicity of the minister seems to diminish the probability of Mary's reverence for him. I cannot fancy even so good a girl who would not have laughed at him. Nor can I fancy a man of real intellect reaching such a period of life without understanding his own feelings better, or penetrating those of another more quickly.
"Then I am provoked at nothing happening to Mrs. Scudder, whom I think as entirely unendurable a creature as ever defied poetical justice at the end of a novel meant to irritate people. And finally, I think you are too disdainful of what ordinary readers seek in a novel, under the name of 'interest,'--that gradually developing wonder, expectation, and curiosity which makes people who have no self-command sit up till three in the morning to get to the crisis, and people who have self-command lay the book down with a resolute sigh, and think of it all the next day through till the time comes for taking it up again. Still, I know well that in many respects it was impossible for you to treat this story merely as a work of literary art. There must have been many facts which you could not dwell upon, and which no one may judge by common rules.
"It is also true, as you say once or twice in the course of the work, that we have not among us here the peculiar religious earnestness you have mainly to describe.
"We have little earnest formalism, and our formalists are for the most part hollow, feeble, uninteresting, mere stumbling-blocks. We have the Simeon Brown species, indeed; and among readers even of his kind the book may do some good, and more among the weaker, truer people, whom it will shake like mattresses,--making the dust fly, and perhaps with it some of the sticks and quill-ends, which often make that kind of person an objectionable mattress. I write too lightly of the book,--far too lightly,--but your letter made me gay, and I have been lighter-hearted ever since; only I kept this after beginning it, because I was ashamed to send it without a line to Mrs. Browning as well. I do not understand why you should apprehend (or rather anticipate without apprehension) any absurd criticism on it. It is sure to be a popular book,--not as 'Uncle Tom' was, for that owed part of its popularity to its dramatic effect (the flight on the ice, etc.), which I did not like; but as a true picture of human life is always popular. Nor, I should think, would any critics venture at all to carp at it.
"The Candace and Virginie bits appear to me, as far as I have yet seen, the best. I am very glad there is this nice French lady in it: the French are the least appreciated in general, of all nations, by other nations. . . . My father says the book is worth its weight in gold, and he knows good work."
When we turn from these criticisms and commendations to the inner history of this period, we find that the work was done in deep sadness of heart, and the undertone of pathos that forms the dark background of the brightest and most humorous parts of "The Minister's Wooing" was the unconscious revelation of one of sorrowful spirit, who, weary of life, would have been glad to lie down with her arms "round the wayside cross, and sleep away into a brighter scene."
Just before beginning the writing of "The Minister's Wooing" she sent the following letter to Lady Byron:--
MY DEAR FRIEND,--I did long to hear from you at a time when few knew how to speak, because I knew that you did know everything that sorrow can teach,--you whose whole life has been a crucifixion, a long ordeal. But I believe that the "Lamb," who stands forever in the midst of the throne "as it had been slain," has everywhere his followers, those who are sent into the world, as he was, to suffer for the redemption of others, and like him they must look to the joy set before them of redeeming others.
I often think that God called you to this beautiful and terrible ministry when He suffered you to link your destiny with one so strangely gifted, so fearfully tempted, and that the reward which is to meet you, when you enter within the veil, where you must soon pass, will be to see the angel, once chained and defiled within him, set free from sin and glorified, and so know that to you it has been given, by your life of love and faith, to accomplish this glorious change.
I think very much on the subject on which you conversed with me once, --the future state of retribution. It is evident to me that the spirit of Christianity has produced in the human spirit a tenderness of love which wholly revolts from the old doctrine on the subject, and I observe the more Christ-like any one becomes, the more impossible it seems for him to accept it; and yet, on the contrary, it was Christ who said, "Fear Him that is able to destroy soul and body in hell," and the most appalling language on this subject is that of Christ himself. Certain ideas once prevalent certainly must be thrown off. An endless infliction for past sins was once the doctrine that we now generally reject. The doctrine as now taught is that of an eternal persistence in evil necessitating eternal punishment, since evil induces misery by an eternal nature of things, and this, I fear, is inferable from the analogies of nature, and confirmed by the whole implication of the Bible.
Is there any fair way of disposing of the current of assertion, and the still deeper undercurrent of implication, on this subject, without one which loosens all faith in revelation, and throws us on pure naturalism? But of one thing I am sure,--probation does not end with this life, and the number of the redeemed may therefore be infinitely greater than the world's history leads us to suppose.
The views expressed in this letter certainly throw light on many passages in "The Minister's Wooing."
The following letter, written to her daughter Georgiana, is introduced as revealing the spirit in which much of "The Minister's Wooing" was written:--
_February_ 12, 1859.
MY DEAR GEORGIE,--Why haven't I written? Because, dear Georgie, I am like the dry, dead, leafless tree, and have only cold, dead, slumbering buds of hope on the end of stiff, hard, frozen twigs of thought, but no leaves, no blossoms; nothing to send to a little girl who doesn't know what to do with herself any more than a kitten. I am cold, weary, dead; everything is a burden to me.
I let my plants die by inches before my eyes, and do not water them, and I dread everything; I do, and wish it was not to be done, and so when I get a letter from my little girl I smile and say, "Dear little puss, I will answer it;" and I sit hour after hour with folded hands, looking at the inkstand and dreading to begin. The fact is, pussy, mamma is tired. Life to you is gay and joyous, but to mamma it has been a battle in which the spirit is willing but the flesh weak, and she would be glad, like the woman in the St. Bernard, to lie down with her arms around the wayside cross, and sleep away into a brighter scene. Henry's fair, sweet face looks down upon me now and then from out a cloud, and I feel again all the bitterness of the eternal "No" which says I must never, never, in this life, see that face, lean on that arm, hear that voice. Not that my faith in God in the least fails, and that I do not believe that all this is for good. I do, and though not happy, I am blessed. Weak, weary as I am, I rest on Jesus in the innermost depth of my soul, and am quite sure that there is coming an inconceivable hour of beauty and glory when I shall regain Jesus, and he will give me back my beloved one, whom he is educating in a far higher sphere than I proposed. So do not mistake me,--only know that mamma is sitting weary by the wayside, feeling weak and worn, but in no sense discouraged.
Your affectionate mother, H. B. S.
So is it ever: when with bold step we press our way into the
holy place where genius hath wrought, we find it to be a place of sorrows. Art
has its Gethsemane and its
The summer of 1859 found Mrs. Stowe again on her way to
THIRD VISIT TO EUROPE.--LADY BYRON ON "THE MINISTER'S WOOING."--SOME FOREIGN PEOPLE AND THINGS AS THEY APPEARED TO PROFESSOR STOWE.--A WINTER IN ITALY.--THINGS UNSEEN AND UNREVEALED.--SPECULATIONS CONCERNING SPIRITUALISM.--JOHN KUSKIN.--MRS. BROWNING.--THE RETURN TO AMERICA.--LETTERS TO DR. HOLMES.
Mrs. Stowe's third and last trip to
The story thus referred to was "The Minister's Wooing," and Lady Byron's answer to the above, which is appended, leaves no room for doubt as to her appreciation of it. She writes:--
DEAR FRIEND,--I have found, particularly as to yourself,
that if I did not answer from the first impulse, all had evaporated. Your letter
came by the
I have an intense interest in your new novel. More power in these few numbers than in any of your former writings, relatively, at least to my own mind. More power than in "Adam Bede," which is _the_ book of the season, and well deserves a high place. Whether Mrs. Scudder will rival Mrs. Poyser, we shall see.
It would amuse you to hear my granddaughter and myself attempting to foresee the future of the "love story," being quite persuaded for the moment that James is at sea, and the minister about to ruin himself. We think that she will labor to be in love with the self-devoting man, under her mother's influence, and from that hyper-conscientiousness so common with good girls,--but we don't wish her to succeed. Then what is to become of her older lover? He--Time will show. I have just missed Dale Owen, with whom I wished to have conversed about the "Spiritualism." Harris is lecturing here on religion. I do not hear him praised. People are looking for helps to believe everywhere but in life,--in music, in architecture, in antiquity, in ceremony,--and upon all is written, "Thou shalt _not_ believe." At least, if this be faith, happier the unbeliever. I am willing to see _through_ that materialism, but if I am to rest there, I would rend the veil.
_June_ 1. The day of the packet's sailing. I shall hope to be visited by you here. The best flowers sent me have been placed in your little vases, giving life, as it were, to the remembrance of you, though not to pass away like them.
Ever yours, A. T. NOEL BYRON.
The entire family, with the exception of the youngest son,
was abroad at this time. The two eldest daughters were in
DEAR LITTLE CHARLEY,--We are all here except Fred, and all well. We have had a most interesting journey, of which I must give a brief account.
We sailed from
As it was court time, the high sheriff of Lancashire, Sir Robert Gerauld, a fine, stout, old, gray-haired John Bull, came thundering up to the hotel at noon in his grand coach with six beautiful horses with outriders, and two trumpeters, and twelve men with javelins for a guard, all dressed in the gayest manner, and rushing along like Time in the primer, the trumpeters too-ti-toot-tooing like a house a-fire, and how I wished my little Charley had been there to see it!
Monday we wanted to go and see the court, so we went over to St. George's Hall, a most magnificent structure, that beats the Boston State House all hollow, and Sir Robert Gerauld himself met us, and said he would get us a good place. So he took us away round a narrow, crooked passage, and opened a little door, where we saw nothing but a great, crimson curtain, which he told us to put aside and go straight on; and where do you think we all found ourselves?
Right on the platform with the judges in their big wigs and long robes, and facing the whole crowded court! It was enough to frighten a body into fits, but we took it quietly as we could, and your mamma looked as meek as Moses in her little, battered straw hat and gray cloak, seeming to say, "I didn't come here o' purpose."
That same night we arrived in
Next day we went to the duchess's villa, near
We stayed in London till the 25th of August, and then went
to Paris and found H. and E. and H. B. all well and happy; and on the 30th of
August we all went to Geneva together, and to-day, the 1st of September, we all
took a sail up the beautiful Lake Leman here in the midst of the Alps, close by
the old castle of Chillon, about which Lord Byron has written a poem. In a day
or two we shall go to Chamouni, and then Georgie and I will go back to
Mrs. Stowe accompanied her husband and daughter to
MY DEAR HUSBAND,--Here we are at
Instead of coming to
MY DEAR HUSBAND,--I wish you all a Merry Christmas, hoping
to spend the next one with you. For us, we are expecting to spend this evening
with quite a circle of American friends. With Scoville and Fred came L. Bacon
(son of Dr. Bacon); a Mr. Porter, who is to study theology at Andover, and is
now making the tour of Europe; Mr. Clarke, formerly minister at Cornwall; Mr.
Jenkyns, of Lowell; Mr. and Mrs. Howard, John and Annie Howard, who came in
most unexpectedly upon us last night. So we shall have quite a
Our parlor is all trimmed with laurel and myrtle, looking like a great bower, and our mantel and table are redolent with bouquets of orange blossoms and pinks.
_January_ 16, 1860.
MY DEAR HUSBAND,--Your letter received to-day has raised quite a weight from my mind, for it shows that at last you have received all mine, and that thus the chain of communication between us is unbroken. What you said about your spiritual experiences in feeling the presence of dear Henry with you, and, above all, the vibration of that mysterious guitar, was very pleasant to me. Since I have been in Florence, I have been distressed by inexpressible yearnings after him,--such sighings and outreachings, with a sense of utter darkness and separation, not only from him but from all spiritual communion with my God. But I have become acquainted with a friend through whom I receive consoling impressions of these things,--a Mrs. E., of Boston, a very pious, accomplished, and interesting woman, who has had a history much like yours in relation to spiritual manifestations.
Without doubt she is what the spiritualists would regard as a very powerful medium, but being a very earnest Christian, and afraid of getting led astray, she has kept carefully aloof from all circles and things of that nature. She came and opened her mind to me in the first place, to ask my advice as to what she had better do; relating experiences very similar to many of yours.
My advice was substantially to try the spirits whether they were of God,--to keep close to the Bible and prayer, and then accept whatever came. But I have found that when I am with her I receive very strong impressions from the spiritual world, so that I feel often sustained and comforted, as if I had been near to my Henry and other departed friends. This has been at times so strong as greatly to soothe and support me. I told her your experiences, in which she was greatly interested. She said it was so rare to hear of Christian and reliable people with such peculiarities.
I cannot, however, think that Henry strikes the
guitar,--that must be Eliza, Her spirit has ever seemed to cling to that mode
of manifestation, and if you would keep it in your sleeping-room, no doubt you
would hear from it oftener. I have been reading lately a curious work from an
old German in
He seems a devout believer in inspiration, and the book is curious for its mixture of all the phenomena, Pagan and Christian, going over Hindoo. Chinese, Greek, and Italian literature for examples, and then bringing similar ones from the Bible.
One thing I am convinced of,--that spiritualism is a reaction from the intense materialism of the present age. Luther, when he recognized a personal devil, was much nearer right. We ought to enter fully, at least, into the spiritualism of the Bible. Circles and spiritual jugglery I regard as the lying signs and wonders, with all deceivableness of unrighteousness; but there is a real scriptural spiritualism which has fallen into disuse, and must be revived, and there are, doubtless, people who, from some constitutional formation, can more readily receive the impressions of the surrounding spiritual world. Such were apostles, prophets, and workers of miracles.
_Sunday evening_. To-day I went down to sit with Mrs. E. in her quiet parlor. We read in Revelation together, and talked of the saints and spirits of the just made perfect, till it seemed, as it always does when with her, as if Henry were close by me. Then a curious thing happened. She has a little Florentine guitar which hangs in her parlor, quite out of reach. She and I were talking, and her sister, a very matter-of-fact, practical body, who attends to temporals for her, was arranging a little lunch for us, when suddenly the bass string of the guitar was struck loudly and distinctly.
"Who struck that guitar?" said the sister. We both looked up and saw that no body or thing was on that side of the room. After the sister had gone out, Mrs. E. said, "Now, that is strange! I asked last night that if any spirit was present with us after you came to-day, that it would try to touch that guitar." A little while after her husband came in, and as we were talking we were all stopped by a peculiar sound, as if somebody had drawn a hand across all the strings at once. We marveled, and I remembered the guitar at home.
What think you? Have you had any more manifestations, any truths from the spirit world?
About the end of February the pleasant Florentine circle
broke up, and Mrs. Stowe and her party journeyed to
Since my last letter a great change has taken place in our
plans, in consequence of which our passage for
This extended and pleasant tour was ended with an equally pleasant homeward voyage, for on the Europa were found Nathaniel Hawthorne and James T. Fields, who proved most delightful traveling companions.
While Mrs. Stowe fully enjoyed her foreign experiences, she was so thoroughly American in every fibre of her being that she was always thankful to return to her own land and people. She could not, therefore, in any degree reciprocate the views of Mr. Ruskin on this subject, as expressed in the following letter, received soon after her return to Andover:--
DEAR MRS. STOWE,--It takes a great deal, when I am at Geneva, to make me wish myself anywhere else, and, of all places else, in London; nevertheless, I very heartily wish at this moment that I were looking out on the Norwood Hills, and were expecting you and the children to breakfast to-morrow.
I had very serious thoughts, when I received your note, of
running home; but I expected that very day an American friend, Mr. S., who I
thought would miss me more here than you would in
What a dreadful thing it is that people should have to go to
I was waiting for S. at the railroad station on Thursday, and thinking of you, naturally enough,--it seemed so short a while since we were there together. I managed to get hold of Georgie as she was crossing the rails, and packed her in opposite my mother and beside me, and was thinking myself so clever, when you sent that rascally courier for her! I never forgave him any of his behavior after his imperativeness on that occasion.
And so she is getting nice and strong? Ask her, please, when you write, with my love, whether, when she stands now behind the great stick, one can see much of her on each side?
So you have been seeing the Pope and all his Easter performances? I congratulate you, for I suppose it is something like "Positively the last appearance on any stage." What was the use of thinking about _him?_ You should have had your own thoughts about what was to come after him. I don't mean that Roman Catholicism will die out so quickly. It will last pretty nearly as long as Protestantism, which keeps it up; but I wonder what is to come next. That is the main question just now for everybody.
So you are coming round to
I've no heart to write about anything in
I don't know if you will ever get this letter, but I hope you will think it worth while to glance again at the Denmark Hill pictures; so I send this to my father, who, I hope, will be able to give it you.
I really am very sorry you are going,--you and yours; and
that is absolute fact, and I shall not enjoy my Swiss journey at all so much as
I might. It was a shame of you not to give me warning before. I could have
In Rome Mrs. Stowe had formed a warm friendship with the Brownings, with whom she afterwards maintained a correspondence. The following letter from Mrs. Browning was written a year after their first meeting.
MY DEAR, MRS. STOWE,--Let me say one word first. Your letter, which would have given me pleasure if I had been in the midst of pleasures, came to me when little beside could have pleased. Dear friend, let me say it, I had had a great blow and loss in England, and you wrote things in that letter which seemed meant for me, meant to do me good, and which did me good,--the first good any letter or any talk did me; and it struck me as strange, as more than a coincidence, that your first word since we parted in Rome last spring should come to me in Rome, and bear so directly on an experience which you did not know of. I thank you very much.
The earnest stanzas I sent to
If you saw my "De Profundis" you must understand that it was written nearly twenty years ago, and referred to what went before. Mr. Howard's affliction made me think of the MS. (in reference to a sermon of Dr. Beecher's in the "Independent"), and I pulled it out of a secret place and sent it to America, not thinking that the publication would fall in so nearly with a new grief of mine as to lead to misconceptions. In fact the poem would have been an exaggeration in that case, and unsuitable in other respects.
It refers to the greatest affliction of my life,--the only time when I felt _despair_,--written a year after or more. Forgive all these reticences. My husband calls me "peculiar" in some things,--peculiarly lâche, perhaps. I can't articulate some names, or speak of certain afflictions;--no, not to _him_,--not after all these years! It's a sort of _dumbness_ of the soul. Blessed are those who can speak, I say. But don't you see from this how I must want "spiritualism" above most persons?
Now let me be ashamed of this egotism, together with the
rest of the weakness obtruded on you here, when I should rather have
congratulated you, my dear friend, on the great crisis you are passing through
I had much anxiety for you after the Seward and Adams
speeches, but the danger seems averted by that fine madness of the South which
seems judicial. The tariff movement we should regret deeply (and do, some of
us), only I am told it was wanted in order to persuade those who were less
accessible to moral argument. It's eking out the holy water with ditch water.
If the Devil flees before it, even so, let us be content. How you must feel,
_you_ who have done so much to set this accursed slavery in the glare of the
world, convicting it of hideousness! They should raise a statue to you in
Meanwhile I am reading you in the "Independent," sent to me by Mr. Tilton, with the greatest interest. Your new novel opens beautifully. [Footnote: _The Pearl of Orr's Island_.]
Do write to me and tell me of yourself and the subjects
which interest us both. It seems to me that our Roman affairs may linger a
little (while the Papacy bleeds slowly to death in its finances) on account of
this violent clerical opposition in
I ought to send you more about the society in
Your ever affectionate friend,
ELIZABETH B. BROWNING.
Soon after her return to
DEAR DR. HOLMES,--I have had an impulse upon me for a long time to write you a line of recognition and sympathy, in response to those that reached me monthly in your late story in the "Atlantic" ("Elsie Venner").
I know not what others may think of it, since I have seen nobody since my return; but to me it is of deeper and broader interest than anything you have done yet, and I feel an intense curiosity concerning that underworld of thought from which Like bubbles your incidents and remarks often seem to burst up. The foundations of moral responsibility, the interlacing laws of nature and spirit, and their relations to us here and hereafter, are topics which I ponder more and more, and on which only one medically educated can write _well_. I think a course of medical study ought to be required of all ministers. How I should like to talk with you upon the strange list of topics suggested in the schoolmaster's letter! They are bound to agitate the public mind more and more, and it is of the chiefest importance to learn, if we can, to think soundly and wisely of them. Nobody can be a sound theologian who has not had his mind drawn to think with reverential fear on these topics.
Allow me to hint that the monthly numbers are not long enough. Get us along a little faster. You must work this well out. Elaborate and give us all the particulars. Old Sophie is a jewel; give us more of her. I have seen her. Could you ever come out and spend a day with us? The professor and I would so like to have a talk on some of these matters with you!
Very truly yours, H. B. STOWE.
DEAR DOCTOR,--I was quite indignant to hear yesterday of the very unjust and stupid attack upon you in the----. Mr. Stowe has written to them a remonstrance which I hope they will allow to appear as he wrote it, and over his name. He was well acquainted with your father and feels the impropriety of the thing.
But, my dear friend, in being shocked, surprised, or displeased personally with such things, we must consider other people's natures. A man or woman may wound us to the quick without knowing it, or meaning to do so, simply through difference of fibre. As Cowper hath somewhere happily said:--
"Oh, why are farmers made so coarse,
Or clergy made so fine?
A kick that scarce might move a horse
Might kill a sound divine."
When once people get ticketed, and it is known that one is a hammer, another a saw, and so on, if we happen to get a taste of their quality we cannot help being hurt, to be sure, but we shall not take it ill of them. There be pious, well-intending beetles, wedges, hammers, saws, and all other kinds of implements, good--except where they come in the way of our fingers--and from a beetle you can have only a beetle's gospel.
I have suffered in my day from this sort of handling, which is worse for us women, who must never answer, and once when I wrote to Lady Byron, feeling just as you do about some very stupid and unkind things that had invaded my personality, she answered me, "Words do not kill, my dear, or I should have been dead long ago."
There is much true religion and kindness in the world, after all, and as a general thing he who has struck a nerve would be very sorry for it if he only knew what he had done. I would say nothing, if I were you. There is eternal virtue in silence.
I must express my pleasure with the closing chapters of "Elsie." They are nobly and beautifully done, and quite come up to what I wanted to complete my idea of her character. I am quite satisfied with it now. It is an artistic creation, original and beautiful.
Believe me to be your true friend,
H. B. STOWE.
THE OUTBREAK OF CIVIL WAR.--MRS. STOWE'S SON ENLISTS.--THANKSGIVING DAY IN WASHINGTON.--THE PROCLAMATION OF EMANCIPATION.--REJOICINGS IN BOSTON.--FRED STOWE AT GETTYSBURG.--LEAVING ANDOVER AND SETTLING IN HARTFORD.--A REPLY TO THE WOMEN OF ENGLAND.--LETTERS FROM JOHN BRIGHT, ARCHBISHOP WHATELY, AND NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.
Immediately after Mrs. Stowe's return from
Mrs. Stowe spoke from personal experience, having seen her own son go forth in the ranks of those who first responded to the President's call for volunteers. He was one of the first to place his name on the muster-roll of Company A of the First Massachusetts Volunteers. While his regiment was still at the camp in Cambridge, Mrs. Stowe was called to Brooklyn on important business, from which place she writes to her husband under the date June 11, 1861:--
"Yesterday noon Henry (Ward Beecher) came in, saying
that the Commonwealth, with the First (
"When we were in, a vast area of gray caps and blue overcoats was presented. The boys were eating, drinking, smoking, talking, singing, and laughing. Company A was reported to be here, there, and everywhere. At last S. spied Fred in the distance, and went leaping across the tracks towards him. Immediately afterwards a blue-overcoated figure bristling with knapsack and haversack, and looking like an assortment of packages, came rushing towards us.
"Fred was overjoyed, you may be sure, and my first impulse was to wipe his face with my handkerchief before I kissed him. He was in high spirits, in spite of the weight of blue overcoat, knapsack, etc., etc., that he would formerly have declared intolerable for half an hour. I gave him my handkerchief and Eunice gave him hers, with a sheer motherly instinct that is so strong within her, and then we filled his haversack with oranges.
"We stayed with Fred about two hours, during which time the gallery was filled with people, cheering and waving their handkerchiefs. Every now and then the band played inspiriting airs, in which the soldiers joined with hearty voices. While some of the companies sang, others were drilled, and all seemed to be having a general jollification. The meal that had been provided was plentiful, and consisted of coffee, lemonade, sandwiches, etc.
"On our way out we were introduced to the Rev. Mr. Cudworth, chaplain of the regiment. He is a fine-looking man, with black eyes and hair, set off by a white havelock. He wore a sword, and Fred, touching it, asked, 'Is this for use or ornament, sir?'
"'Let me see you in danger,' answered the chaplain, 'and you'll find out.'
"I said to him I supposed he had had many an one confided to his kind offices, but I could not forbear adding one more to the number. He answered, 'You may rest assured, Mrs. Stowe, I will do all in my power.'
"We parted from Fred at the door. He said he felt lonesome enough Saturday evening on the Common in Boston, where everybody was taking leave of somebody, and he seemed to be the only one without a friend, but that this interview made up for it all.
"I also saw young Henry. Like Fred he is mysteriously
changed, and wears an expression of gravity and care. So our boys come to
manhood in a day. Now I am watching anxiously for the evening paper to tell me
that the regiment has reached
In November, 1862, Mrs. Stowe was invited to visit
Imagine a quiet little parlor with a bright coal fire, and the gaslight burning above a centre-table, about which Hatty, Fred, and I are seated. Fred is as happy as happy can be to be with mother and sister once more. All day yesterday we spent in getting him. First we had to procure a permit to go to camp, then we went to the fort where the colonel is, and then to another where the brigadier-general is stationed. I was so afraid they would not let him come with us, and was never happier than when at last he sprang into the carriage free to go with us for forty-eight hours. "Oh!" he exclaimed in a sort of rapture, "this pays for a year and a half of fighting and hard work!"
We tried hard to get the five o'clock train out to Laurel, where J.'s regiment is stationed, as we wanted to spend Sunday all together; but could not catch it, and so had to content ourselves with what we could have. I have managed to secure a room for Fred next ours, and feel as though I had my boy at home once more. He is looking very well, has grown in thickness, and is as loving and affectionate as a boy can be.
I have just been writing a pathetic appeal to the brigadier-general to let him stay with us a week. I have also written to General Buckingham in regard to changing him from the infantry, in which there seems to be no prospect of anything but garrison duty, to the cavalry, which is full of constant activity.
General B. called on us last evening. He seemed to think the prospect before us was, at best, of a long war. He was the officer deputed to carry the order to General McClellan relieving him of command of the army. He carried it to him in his tent about twelve o'clock at night. Burnside was there. McClellan said it was very unexpected, but immediately turned over the command. I said I thought he ought to have expected it after having so disregarded the President's order. General B. smiled and said he supposed McClellan had done that so often before that he had no idea any notice would be taken of it this time.
Now, as I am very tired, I must close, and remain as always, lovingly yours,
During the darkest and most bitter period of the Civil War, Mrs. Stowe penned the following letter to the Duchess of Argyll:--
MY DEAR FRIEND,--Your lovely, generous letter was a real comfort to me, and reminded me that a year--and, alas! a whole year--had passed since I wrote to your dear mother, of whom I think so often as one of God's noblest creatures, and one whom it comforts me to think is still in our world.
_So many_, good and noble, have passed away whose friendship
was such a pride, such a comfort to me! Your noble father, Lady Byron, Mrs.
Browning,--their spirits are as perfect as ever passed to the world of light. I
grieve about your dear mother's eyes. I have thought about you all, many a sad,
long, quiet hour, as I have lain on my bed and looked at the pictures on my
wall; one, in particular, of the moment before the Crucifixion, which is the
first thing I look at when I wake in the morning. I think how suffering is, and
must be, the portion of noble spirits, and no lot so brilliant that must not
first or last dip into the shadow of that eclipse.
Under my picture I have inscribed, "Forasmuch as Christ also hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same mind."
This year has been one long sigh, one smothering sob, to me.
And I thank God that we have as yet one or two generous friends in
The utter failure of Christian, anti-slavery
Why do the horrible barbarities of _Southern_ soldiers cause
no comment? Why is the sympathy of the British Parliament reserved for the poor
Slavery will be sent out by this agony. We are only in the
throes and ravings of the exorcism. The roots of the cancer have gone
everywhere, but they must die--will. Already the Confiscation Bill is its
I am using up my paper to little purpose. Please give my
best love to your dear mother. I am going to write to her. If I only could have
written the things I have often thought! I am going to put on her bracelet,
with the other dates, that of the abolition of slavery in the
I am lovingly ever yours,
H. B. STOWE.
Later in the year we hear again from her son in the army,
and this time the news comes in a chaplain's letter from the terrible field of
MRS. H. B. STOWE:
_Dear Madam_,--Among the thousands of wounded and dying men on this war-scarred field, I have just met with your son, Captain Stowe. If you have not already heard from him, it may cheer your heart to know that he is in the hands of good, kind friends. He was struck by a fragment of a shell, which entered his right ear. He is quiet and cheerful, longs to see some member of his family, and is, above all, anxious that they should hear from him as soon as possible. I assured him I would write at once, and though I am wearied by a week's labor here among scenes of terrible suffering, I know that, to a mother's anxious heart, even a hasty scrawl about her boy will be more than welcome.
May God bless and sustain you in this troubled time!
Yours with sincere sympathy,
J. M. CROWELL.
The wound in the head was not fatal, and after weary months
of intense suffering it imperfectly healed; but the cruel iron had too nearly
touched the brain of the young officer, and never again was he what he had
been. Soon after the war his mother bought a plantation in
Meantime, the year 1863 was proving eventful in many other
ways to Mrs. Stowe. In the first place, the long and pleasant
Another important event of 1863 was the publishing of that
charming story of
[Illustration: THE OLD HOME AT
Not the least important event of the year to Mrs. Stowe, and
the world at large through her instrumentality, was the publication in the
"Atlantic Monthly" of her reply to the address of the women of
To "The affectionate and Christian Address of many
thousands of Women of Great Britain and
ANNA MARIA BEDFORD
SISTERS,--More than eight years ago you
sent to us in
"A common origin, a common faith, and, we sincerely believe, a common cause, urge us, at the present moment, to address you on the subject of that system of negro slavery which still prevails so extensively, and, even under kindly disposed masters, with such frightful results, in many of the vast regions of the Western world.
"We will not dwell on the ordinary topics,--on the progress of civilization, on the advance of freedom everywhere, on the rights and requirements of the nineteenth century; but we appeal to you very seriously to reflect, and to ask counsel of God, how far such a state of things is in accordance with his Holy Word, the inalienable rights of immortal souls, and the pure and merciful spirit of the Christian religion. We do not shut our eyes to the difficulties, nay, the dangers, that might beset the immediate abolition of that long-established system. We see and admit the necessity of preparation for so great an event; but, in speaking of indispensable preliminaries, we cannot be silent on those laws of your country which, in direct contravention of God's own law, 'instituted in the time of man's innocency, deny in effect to the slave the sanctity of marriage, with all its joys, rights, and obligations; which separate, at the will of the master, the wife from the husband, and the children from the parents. Nor can we be silent on that awful system which, either by statute or by custom, interdicts to any race of men, or any portion of the human family, education in the truths of the gospel and the ordinances of Christianity. A remedy applied to these two evils alone would commence the amelioration of their sad condition. We appeal to you then, as sisters, as wives, and as mothers, to raise your voices to your fellow-citizens, and your prayers to God, for the removal of this affliction and disgrace from the Christian world.
"We do not say these things in a spirit of self-complacency, as though our nation were free from the guilt it perceives in others.
"We acknowledge with grief and shame our heavy share in this great sin. We acknowledge that our fore-fathers introduced, nay compelled the adoption, of slavery in those mighty colonies. We humbly confess it before Almighty God; and it is because we so deeply feel and unfeignedly avow our own complicity, that we now venture to implore your aid to wipe away our common crime and our common dishonor."
This address, splendidly illuminated on vellum, was sent to
our shores at the head of twenty-six folio volumes, containing considerably
more than half a million of signatures of British women. It was forwarded to me
with a letter from a British nobleman, now occupying one of the highest
official positions in
This memorial, as it now stands in its solid oaken case,
with its heavy folios, each bearing on its back the imprint of the American
eagle, forms a most unique library, a singular monument of an international
expression of a moral idea. No right-thinking person can find aught to be
objected against the substance or form of this
memorial. It is temperate, just, and kindly; and on the high ground of
Christian equality, where it places itself, may be regarded as a perfectly
proper expression of sentiment, as between blood relations and equals in two
different nations. The signatures to this appeal are not the least remarkable
part of it; for, beginning at the very steps of the throne, they go down to the
names of women in the very humblest conditions in life, and represent all that
No reply to that address, in any such tangible and
monumental form, has ever been possible. It was impossible to canvass our vast
territories with the zealous and indefatigable industry with which
From the slaveholding States, however, as was to be expected, came a flood of indignant recrimination and rebuke. No one act, perhaps, ever produced more frantic irritation, or called out more unsparing abuse. It came with the whole united weight of the British aristocracy and commonalty on the most diseased and sensitive part of our national life; and it stimulated that fierce excitement which was working before, and has worked since, till it has broken out into open war.
The time has come, however, when such an astonishing page has been turned, in the anti-slavery history of America, that the women of our country, feeling that the great anti-slavery work to which their English sisters exhorted them is almost done, may properly and naturally feel moved to reply to their appeal, and lay before them the history of what has occurred since the receipt of their affectionate and Christian address.
Your address reached us just as a great moral conflict was
coming to its intensest point. The agitation kept up by the anti-slavery
To this end they determined to seize on and control all the
resources of the Federal Government, and to spread their institutions through
new States and Territories until the balance of power should fall into their
hands and they should be able to force slavery into all the
A leading Southern senator boasted that he would yet call
the roll of his slaves on Bunker Hill; and for a while the political successes
of the slave-power were such as to suggest to
They repealed the Missouri Compromise, which had hitherto
stood like the Chinese wall, between our
Then came the struggle between freedom and slavery in the new territory; the battle for Kansas and Nebraska, fought with fire and sword and blood, where a race of men, of whom John Brown was the immortal type, acted over again the courage, the perseverance, and the military-religious ardor of the old Covenanters of Scotland, and like them redeemed the ark of Liberty at the price of their own blood, and blood dearer than their own.
The time of the Presidential canvass which elected Mr.
Lincoln was the crisis of this great battle. The conflict had become narrowed
down to the one point of the extension of slave territory. If the slaveholders
could get States enough, they could control and rule; if they were outnumbered
They met and organized a Confederacy which they openly declared to be the first republic founded on the right and determination of the white man to enslave the black man, and, spreading their banners, declared themselves to the Christian world of the nineteenth century as a nation organized with the full purpose and intent of perpetuating slavery.
But in the course of the struggle that followed, it became
important for the new confederation to secure the assistance of foreign powers,
and infinite pains were then taken to blind and bewilder the mind of
It has been often and earnestly asserted that slavery had
nothing to do with this conflict; that it was a mere struggle for power; that
the only object was to restore the
And first the declaration of the Confederate States themselves is proof enough, that, whatever may be declared on the other side, the maintenance of slavery is regarded by them as the vital object of their movement.
We ask your attention under this head to the declaration of
their Vice-President, Stephens, in that remarkable speech delivered on the 21st
of March, 1861, at
Last, not least, the new Constitution has put at rest
_forever_ all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar
institution,--African slavery as it exists among us, the proper _status_ of the
negro in our form of civilization. _This was the immediate cause of the late
rupture and present revolution_. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated
this as the "rock upon which the old
_The prevailing ideas entertained by him, and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically._
In the mean while, during the past year, the Republican administration,
with all the unwonted care of organizing an army and navy, and conducting
military operations on an immense scale, have proceeded to demonstrate the
feasibility of overthrowing slavery by purely constitutional measures. To this
end they have instituted a series of movements which have made this year more
fruitful in anti-slavery triumphs than any other since the emancipation of the
By another act, equally grand in principle, and far more
important in its results, slavery is forever excluded from the Territories of
By another act,
Lastly, and more significant still, the United States
government has in its highest official capacity taken distinct anti-slavery
ground, and presented to the country a plan of peaceable emancipation with
suitable compensation. This noble-spirited and generous offer has been urged on
the slaveholding States by the chief executive with earnestness and sincerity.
But this is but half the story of the anti-slavery triumphs of this year. We
have shown you what has been done for freedom by the simple use of the ordinary
constitutional forces of the
By this power it has been this year decreed that every slave of a rebel who reaches the lines of our army becomes a free man; that all slaves found deserted by their masters become free men; that every slave employed in any service for the United States thereby obtains his liberty; and that every slave employed against the United States in any capacity obtains his liberty; and lest the army should contain officers disposed to remand slaves to their masters, the power of judging and delivering up slaves is denied to army officers, and all such acts are made penal.
By this act the Fugitive Slave Law is for all present purposes practically repealed. With this understanding and provision, wherever our armies march they carry liberty with them. For be it remembered that our army is almost entirely a volunteer one, and that the most zealous and ardent volunteers are those who have been for years fighting, with tongue and pen, the abolition battle. So marked is the character of our soldiers in this respect, that they are now familiarly designated in the official military dispatches of the Confederate States as "the Abolitionists." Conceive the results when an army so empowered by national law marches through a slave territory. One regiment alone has to our certain knowledge liberated two thousand slaves during the past year, and this regiment is but one out of hundreds.
Lastly, the great decisive measure of the war has appeared,--_the President's Proclamation of Emancipation_.
This also has been much misunderstood and misrepresented in
Will our sisters in
And now, sisters of
The voices that have spoken for us who contend for liberty
have been few and scattering. God forbid that we should forget those few noble
voices, so sadly exceptional in the general outcry against us! They are, alas! too few to be easily forgotten. False statements have
blinded the minds of your community, and turned the most generous sentiments of
the British heart against us. The North are fighting
for supremacy and the South for independence, has been the voice.
In the beginning of our struggle, the voices that reached us across the water said: "If we were only sure you were fighting for the abolition of slavery, we should not dare to say whither our sympathies for your cause might not carry us." Such, as we heard, were the words of the honored and religious nobleman who draughted this very letter which you signed and sent us, and to which we are now replying.
When these words reached us we said: "We can wait; our
This very day the writer of this has been present at a solemn religious festival in the national capital, given at the home of a portion of those fugitive slaves who have fled to our lines for protection,--who, under the shadow of our flag, find sympathy and succor. The national day of thanksgiving was there kept by over a thousand redeemed slaves, and for whom Christian charity had spread an ample repast. Our sisters, we wish _you_ could have witnessed the scene. We wish you could have heard the prayer of a blind old negro, called among his fellows John the Baptist, when in touching broken English he poured forth his thanksgivings. We wish you could have heard the sound of that strange rhythmical chant which is now forbidden to be sung on Southern plantations,--the psalm of this modern exodus,--which combines the barbaric fire of the Marseillaise with the religious fervor of the old Hebrew prophet:--
"Oh, go down,
Moses, Way down
As we were leaving, an aged woman came and lifted up her
hands in blessing. "Bressed be de Lord dat
brought me to see dis first happy day of my life! Bressed be de Lord!" In
We have been shocked and saddened by the question asked in an association of Congregational ministers in England, the very blood relations of the liberty-loving Puritans,--"Why does not the North let the South go?"
What! give up the point of emancipation for these four million slaves? Turn our backs on them, and leave them to their fate? What! leave our white brothers to run a career of oppression and robbery, that, as sure as there is a God that ruleth in the armies of heaven, will bring down a day of wrath and doom? Remember that wishing success to this slavery-establishing effort is only wishing to the sons and daughters of the South all the curses that God has written against oppression. _Mark our words!_ If we succeed, the children of these very men who are now fighting us will rise up to call us blessed. Just as surely as there is a God who governs in the world, so surely all the laws of national prosperity follow in the train of equity; and if we succeed, we shall have delivered the children's children of our misguided brethren from the wages of sin, which is always and everywhere death.
And now, sisters of
We appeal to you as sisters, as wives, and as mothers, to raise your voices to your fellow-citizens, and your prayers to God for the removal of this affliction and disgrace from the Christian world.
In behalf of many thousands of American women.
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.
The publication of this reply elicited the following interesting letter from John Bright:--
DEAR MRS. STOWE,--I received your kind note with real pleasure,
and felt it very good of you to send me a copy of the "Atlantic
Monthly" with your noble letter to the women of England. I read every word
of it with an intense interest, and I am quite sure that its effect upon
opinion here has been marked and beneficial. It has covered some with shame,
and it has compelled many to think, and it has stimulated not a few to act.
Before this reaches you, you will have seen what large and earnest meetings
have been held in all our towns in favor of abolition and the North. No town
has a building large enough to contain those who come to listen, to applaud,
and to vote in favor of freedom and the
The need and duty of
I hope your people may have strength and virtue to win the
great cause intrusted to them, but it is fearful to contemplate the amount of
the depravity in the North engendered by the long power of slavery.
I well remember the evening at
Believe me very sincerely yours,
It also called forth from Archbishop Whately the following letter:--
DEAR MADAM,--In acknowledging your letter and pamphlet, I take the opportunity of laying before you what I collect to be the prevailing sentiments here on American affairs. Of course there is a great variety of opinion, as may be expected in a country like ours. Some few sympathize with the Northerns, and some few with the Southerns, but far the greater portion sympathize with neither completely, but lament that each party should be making so much greater an expenditure of life and property than can be compensated for by any advantage they can dream of obtaining.
Those who are the least favorable to the Northerns are not
so from any approbation of slavery, but from not understanding that the war is
waged in the cause of abolition. "It was waged," they say,
"ostensibly for the restoration of the
Then, again, there are some who are provoked at the
incessant railing at
There are many, also, who consider that the present state of things cannot continue much longer if the Confederates continue to hold their own, as they have done hitherto; and that a people who shall have maintained their independence for two or three years will be recognized by the principal European powers. Such appears to have been the procedure of the European powers in all similar cases, such as the revolt of the Anglo-American and Spanish-American colonies, of the Haytians and the Belgians. In these and other like cases, the rule practically adopted seems to have been to recognize the revolters, not at once, but after a reasonable time had been allowed to see whether they could maintain their independence; and this without being understood to have pronounced any decision either way as to the justice of the cause.
Moreover, there are many who say that the negroes and people of color are far from being kindly or justly treated in the Northern States. An emancipated slave, at any rate, has not received good training for earning his bread by the wages of labor; and if, in addition to this and his being treated as an outcast, he is excluded, as it is said, from many employments, by the refusal of white laborers to work along with him, he will have gained little by taking refuge in the Northern States.
I have now laid before you the views which I conceive to be most prevalent among us, and for which I am not myself responsible.
For the safe and effectual emancipation of slaves, I myself
consider there is no plan so good as the gradual one
which was long ago suggested by Bishop Hinds. What he recommended was an _ad valorem tax_ upon slaves,--the value to be fixed by
the owner, with an option to government to purchase at that price. Thus the
slaves would be a burden to the master, and those the most so who should be the
most valuable, as being the most intelligent and steady, and therefore the best
qualified for freedom; and it would be his interest to train his slaves to be
free laborers, and to emancipate them, one by one, as speedily as he could with
safety. I fear, however, that the time is gone by for trying this experiment in
With best wishes for the new year, believe me
Among the many letters written from this side of the
I read with great pleasure your article in the last "
With best regards from Mrs. Hawthorne and myself to yourself and family, sincerely yours,
LETTER TO DUCHESS OF ARGYLL.--MRS.
STOWE DESIRES TO HAVE A HOME AT THE SOUTH.--
In 1866, the terrible conflict between the North and South having ended, Mrs. Stowe wrote the following letter to the Duchess of Argyll:--
MY DEAR FRIEND,--Your letter was a real spring of comfort to me, bringing refreshingly the pleasant library at Inverary and the lovely days I spent there.
I am grieved at what you say of your dear mother's health. I showed your letter to Mrs. Perkins, and we both agreed in saying that _we_ should like for a time to fill the place of maid to her, as doubtless you all feel, too. I should so love to be with her, to read to her, and talk to her! and oh, there is so much that would cheer and comfort a noble heart like hers that we could talk about. Oh, my friend, when I think of what has been done these last few years, and of what is now doing, I am lost in amazement. I have just, by way of realizing it to myself, been reading "Uncle Tom's Cabin" again, and when I read that book, scarred and seared and burned into with the memories of an anguish and horror that can never be forgotten, and think it is all over now, all past, and that now the questions debated are simply of more or less time before granting legal suffrage to those who so lately were held only as articles of merchandise,--when this comes over me I think no private or individual sorrow can ever make me wholly without comfort. If my faith in God's presence and real, living power in the affairs of men ever grows dim, this makes it impossible to doubt.
I have just had a sweet and lovely Christian letter from Garrison, whose beautiful composure and thankfulness in his hour of victory are as remarkable as his wonderful courage in the day of moral battle. His note ends with the words, "And who but God is to be glorified?" Garrison's attitude is far more exalted than that of Wendell Phillips. He acknowledges the great deed done. He suspends his "Liberator" with words of devout thanksgiving, and devotes himself unobtrusively to the work yet to be accomplished for the freedmen; while Phillips seems resolved to ignore the mighty work that has been done, because of the inevitable shortcomings and imperfections that beset it still. We have a Congress of splendid men,--men of stalwart principle and determination. We have a President [Footnote: Andrew Johnson] honestly seeking to do right; and if he fails in knowing just what right is, it is because he is a man born and reared in a slave State, and acted on by many influences which we cannot rightly estimate unless we were in his place. My brother Henry has talked with him earnestly and confidentially, and has faith in him as an earnest, good man seeking to do right. Henry takes the ground that it is unwise and impolitic to endeavor to force negro suffrage on the South at the point of the bayonet. His policy would be, to hold over the negro the protection of our Freedman's Bureau until the great laws of free labor shall begin to draw the master and servant together; to endeavor to soothe and conciliate, and win to act with us, a party composed of the really good men at the South.
For this reason he has always advocated lenity of measures towards them. He wants to get them into a state in which the moral influence of the North can act upon them beneficially, and to get such a state of things that there will be a party _at the South_ to protect the negro.
Charles Sumner is looking simply at the abstract _right_ of the thing. Henry looks at actual probabilities. We all know that the state of society at the South is such that laws are a very inadequate protection even to white men. Southern elections always have been scenes of mob violence _when only white men voted_.
Multitudes of lives have been lost at the polls in this way, and if against their will negro suffrage was forced upon them, I do not see how any one in their senses can expect anything less than an immediate war of races.
If negro suffrage were required as a condition of acquiring political position, there is no doubt the slave States would grant it; grant it nominally, because they would know that the grant never could or would become an actual realization. And what would then be gained for the negro?
I am sorry that people cannot differ on such great and perplexing public questions without impugning each other's motives. Henry has been called a backslider because of the lenity of his counsels, but I cannot but think it is the Spirit of Christ that influences him. Garrison has been in the same way spoken of as a deserter, because he says that a work that _is_ done shall be called done, and because he would not keep up an anti-slavery society when slavery is abolished; and I think our President is much injured by the abuse that is heaped on him, and the selfish and unworthy motives that are ascribed to him by those who seem determined to allow to nobody an honest, unselfish difference in judgment from their own.
Henry has often spoken of you and your duke as pleasant
memories in a scene of almost superhuman labor and excitement. He often said to
me: "When this is all over,--when we have won the victory,--_then_ I will
write to the duchess." But when it was over and the flag raised again at
I want to ask a favor. Do you have, as we do, _cartes de
visite_? If you have, and could send me one of yourself and the duke and of
Lady Edith and your eldest son, I should be so very glad to see how you are
looking now; and the dear mother, too, I should so like to see how she looks.
It seems almost like a dream to look back to those pleasant days. I am glad to
see you still keep some memories of our goings on. Georgie's marriage is a very
happy one to us. They live in Stockbridge, the loveliest part of
I am, with sincerest affection, ever yours,
H. B. STOWE.
Soon after the close of the war Mrs. Stowe conceived the idea of making for herself and her family a winter home in the South, where she might escape the rigors of Northern winters, and where her afflicted son Frederick might enjoy an out-of-door life throughout the year. She was also most anxious to do her share towards educating and leading to a higher life those colored people whom she had helped so largely to set free, and who were still in the state of profound ignorance imposed by slavery. In writing of her hopes and plans to her brother Charles Beecher, in 1866, she says:--
"My plan of going to
"Corrupt politicians are already beginning to speculate
on them as possible capital for their schemes, and to fill their poor heads
with all sorts of vagaries.
"The Episcopal Church is, however, undertaking, under
direction of the future Bishop of Florida, a wide-embracing scheme of Christian
activity for the whole State. In this work I desire to be associated, and my
plan is to locate at some salient point on the
During this year Mrs. Stowe partially carried her plan into execution by hiring an old plantation called "Laurel Grove," on the west side of the St. John's River, near the present village of Orange Park. Here she established her son Frederick as a cotton planter, and here he remained for two years. This location did not, however, prove entirely satisfactory, nor did the raising of cotton prove to be, under the circumstances, a profitable business. After visiting Florida during the winter of 1866-67, at which time her attention was drawn to the beauties and superior advantages of Mandarin on the east side of the river, Mrs. Stowe writes from Hartford, May 29, 1867, to Rev. Charles Beecher:--
My dear Brother,--We are now thinking seriously of a place
in Mandarin much more beautiful than any other in the vicinity. It has on it
five large date palms, an olive tree in full bearing, besides a fine orange
grove which this year will yield about seventy-five thousand oranges. If we get
that, then I want you to consider the expediency of buying the one next to it.
It contains about two hundred acres of land, on which is a fine orange grove,
the fruit from which last year brought in two thousand dollars as sold at the
wharf. It is right on the river, and four steamboats pass it each week, on
their way to
I am now in correspondence with the Bishop of Florida, with
a view to establishing a line of churches along the
I long to be at this work, and cannot think of it without my heart burning within me. Still I leave all with my God, and only hope He will open the way for me to do all that I want to for this poor people.
H. B. STOWE.
Mrs. Stowe had some years before this joined the Episcopal Church, for the sake of attending the same communion as her daughters, who were Episcopalians. Her brother Charles did not, however, see fit to change his creed, and though he went to Florida he settled a hundred and sixty miles west from the St. John's River, at Newport, near St. Marks, on the Gulf coast, and about twenty miles from Tallahassee. Here he lived every winter and several summers for fifteen years, and here he left the impress of his own remarkably sweet and lovely character upon the scattered population of the entire region.
[Illustration: THE HOME AT MANDARIN,
Mrs. Stowe in the mean time purchased the property, with its
orange grove and comfortable cottage, that she had
recommended to him, and thus Mandarin became her winter home. No one who
has ever seen it can forget the peaceful beauty of this
Here, on the front piazza, beneath the grand oaks, looking
out on the calm sunlit river, Professor Stowe enjoyed that absolute peace and
restful quiet for which his scholarly nature had always longed, but which had
been forbidden to the greater part of his active life. At almost any hour of
the day the well-known figure, with snow-white, patriarchal beard and kindly
face, might be seen sitting there, with a basket of books, many of them in dead
and nearly forgotten languages, close at hand. An amusing incident of family
life was as follows: Some Northern visitors seemed to think that the family had
no rights which were worthy of a moment's consideration. They would land at the
wharf, roam about the place, pick flowers, peer into
the house through the windows and doors, and act with that disregard of all the
proprieties of life which characterizes ill-bred people when on a journey. The
professor had been driven well-nigh distracted by these migratory bipeds. One
day, when one of them broke a branch from an orange tree directly before his
eyes, and was bearing it off in triumph with all its load of golden fruit, he
leaped from his chair, and addressed the astonished individual on those
fundamental principles of common honesty, which he deemed outraged by this act.
The address was vigorous and truthful, but of a kind which will not bear
repeating, "Why," said the horror-stricken culprit, "I thought
that this was Mrs. Stowe's place!" "You thought it was Mrs. Stowe's
place!" Then, in a voice of thunder, "I would have you understand,
sir, that I am the proprietor and protector of Mrs. Stowe and of this place,
and if you commit any more such shameful depredations I will have you punished
as you deserve!" Thus this predatory Yankee was taught to realize that
there is a God in
In April, 1869, Mrs. Stowe was obliged to hurry North in order to visit
About this time she secured a plot of land, and made arrangements for the erection on it of a building that should be used as a schoolhouse through the week, and as a church on Sunday. For several years Professor Stowe preached during the winter in this little schoolhouse, and Mrs. Stowe conducted Sunday-school, sewing classes, singing classes, and various other gatherings for instruction and amusement, all of which were well attended and highly appreciated by both the white and colored residents of the neighborhood.
Upon one occasion, having just arrived at her Mandarin home, Mrs. Stowe writes:--
"At last, after waiting a day and a half in
"We are all well, contented, and happy, and we have six birds, two dogs, and a pony. Do write more and oftener. Tell me all the little nothings and nowheres. You can't imagine how they are magnified by the time they have reached into this remote corner."
In 1872 she wrote a series of
"Although you have not answered my last letter, I
"We leave on the
"The next you hear of me will be at the North, where
our address is
In a letter written in May of the following year to her son Charles, at Harvard, Mrs. Stowe says: "I can hardly realize that this long, flowery summer, with its procession of blooms and fruit, has been running on at the same time with the snowbanks and sleet storms of the North. But so it is. It is now the first of May. Strawberries and blackberries are over with us; oranges are in a waning condition, few and far between. Now we are going North to begin another summer, and have roses, strawberries, blackberries, and green peas come again.
"I am glad to hear of your reading. The effect produced on you by Jonathan Edwards is very similar to that produced on me when I took the same mental bath. His was a mind whose grasp and intensity you cannot help feeling. He was a poet in the intensity of his conceptions, and some of his sermons are more terrible than Dante's 'Inferno.'"
In November, 1874, upon their return to Mandarin, she
writes: "We have had heavenly weather, and we needed it: for our house was
a cave of spider-webs, cockroaches, dirt, and all abominations, but less than a
week has brought it into beautiful order. It now begins to put on that quaint,
lively, pretty air that so fascinates me. Our weather is, as I said, heavenly,
neither hot nor cold; cool, calm, bright, serene, and so tranquillizing. There
is something indescribable about the best weather we have down here. It does
not debilitate me like the soft October air in
During the following February, she writes in reply to an invitation to visit a Northern watering place later in the season: "I shall be most happy to come, and know of nothing to prevent. I have, thank goodness, no serial story on hand for this summer, to hang like an Old Man of the Sea about my neck, and hope to enjoy a little season of being like other folks. It is a most lovely day to-day, most unfallen Eden-like."
In a letter written later in the same season, March 28, 1875, Mrs. Stowe gives us a pleasant glimpse at their preparations for the proper observance of Easter Sunday in the little Mandarin schoolhouse. She says:--
"It was the week before Easter, and we had on our minds
the dressing of the church. There my two Gothic fireboards were to be turned
into a pulpit for the occasion. I went to
"Sunday morning was cool and bright, a most perfect Easter. Our little church was full, and everybody seemed delighted with the decorations. Mr. Stowe preached a sermon to show that Christ is going to put everything right at last, which is comforting. So the day was one of real pleasure, and also I trust of real benefit, to the poor souls who learned from it that Christ is indeed risen for them"
During this winter the following characteristic letters passed between Mrs. Stowe and her valued friend, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, called forth by the sending to the latter of a volume of Mrs. Stowe's latest stories:--
My dear Mrs. Stowe,--I would not write to thank you for your most welcome "Christmas Box,"
"A box whose sweets compacted lie,"
before I had read it, and every word of it. I have been very much taken up with antics of one kind and another, and have only finished it this afternoon. The last of the papers was of less comparative value to me than to a great fraction of your immense parish of readers, because I am so familiar with every movement of the Pilgrims in their own chronicles.
"Deacon Pitkin's Farm" is full of those thoroughly
truthful touches of
I wiped the tears, and plenty of them, from both eyes, in reading "Betty's Bright Idea." It is a most charming and touching story, and nobody can read who has not a heart like a pebble, without being melted into tenderness.
How much you have done and are doing to make our
I think it grows pleasanter to us to be remembered by the friends we still have, as with each year they grow fewer. We have lost Agassiz and Sumner from our circle, and I found Motley stricken with threatening illness (which I hope is gradually yielding to treatment), in the profoundest grief at the loss of his wife, another old and dear friend of mine. So you may be assured that I feel most sensibly your kind attention, and send you my heartfelt thanks for remembering me.
Always, dear Mrs. Stowe, faithfully yours,
O. W. HOLMES.
To this letter Mrs. Stowe replied as follows:--
MANDARIN, _February_ 23, 1876.
DEAR DOCTOR,--How kind it was of you to write me that very
beautiful note! and how I wish you were just where I
am, to see the trees laden at the same time with golden oranges and white
blossoms! I should so like to cut off a golden cluster, leaves and all, for
Dear doctor, how time slips by! I remember when Sumner
seemed to me a young man, and now he has gone. And
Well, one cannot but feel it! To me, also, a whole generation of friends has gone from the other side of the water since I was there and broke kindly bread with them. The Duchess of Sutherland, the good old duke, Lansdowne, Ellesmere, Lady Byron, Lord and Lady Amberly, Charles Kingsley, the good Quaker, Joseph Sturge, all are with the shadowy train that has moved on. Among them were as dear and true friends as I ever had, and as pure and noble specimens of human beings as God ever made. They are living somewhere in intense vitality, I must believe, and you, dear doctor, must not doubt.
I think about your writings a great deal, and one element in them always attracts me. It is their pitiful and sympathetic vein, the pity for poor, struggling human nature. In this I feel that you must be very near and dear to Him whose name is Love.
You wrote some verses once that have got into the hymn-books, and have often occurred to me in my most sacred hours as descriptive of the feelings with which I bear the sorrows and carry the cares of life. They begin,--
"Love Divine, that stooped to share."
I have not all your books down here, and am haunted by gaps in the verses that memory cannot make good; but it is that "Love Divine" which is my stay and comfort and hope, as one friend after another passes beyond sight and hearing. Please let me have it in your handwriting.
I remember a remark you once made on spiritualism. I cannot
recall the words, but you spoke of it as modifying the sharp angles of
Calvinistic belief, as a fog does those of a landscape. I would like to talk
with you some time on spiritualism, and show you a collection of very curious
facts that I have acquired through mediums _not_ professional. Mr. Stowe has
just been wading through eight volumes of "La Mystique," by Goerres,
professor for forty years past in the
I have long since come to the conclusion that the marvels of spiritualism are natural, and not supernatural, phenomena,--an uncommon working of natural laws. I believe that the door between those _in_ the body and those _out_ has never in any age been entirely closed, and that occasional perceptions within the veil are a part of the course of nature, and therefore not miraculous. Of course such a phase of human experience is very substantial ground for every kind of imposture and superstition, and I have no faith whatever in mediums who practice for money. In their case I think the law of Moses, that forbade consulting those who dealt with "familiar spirits," a very wise one.
Do write some more, dear doctor. You are too well off in
your palace down there on the new land. Your Centennial Ballad was a charming
little peep; now give us a full-fledged story. Mr. Stowe sends his best
regards, and wishes you would read "Goerres." [Footnote: Die
Christliche Mystik, by Johann Joseph Gorres,
Yours ever truly,
H. B. STOWE.
Writing in the autumn of 1876 to her son Charles, who was at
that time abroad, studying at
In the following December she writes to her son: "I am again entangled in writing a serial, a thing I never mean to do again, but the story, begun for a mere Christmas brochure, grew so under my hands that I thought I might as well fill it out and make a book of it. It is the last thing of the kind I ever expect to do. In it I condense my recollections of a bygone era, that in which I was brought up, the ways and manners of which are now as nearly obsolete as the Old England of Dickens's stories is.
"I am so hampered by the necessity of writing this story, that I am obliged to give up company and visiting of all kinds and keep my strength for it. I hope I may be able to finish it, as I greatly desire to do so, but I begin to feel that I am not so strong as I used to be. Your mother is an old woman, Charley mine, and it is best she should give up writing before people are tired of reading her.
"I would much rather have written another such a book as 'Footsteps of the Master,' but all, even the religious papers, are gone mad on serials. Serials they demand and will have, and I thought, since this generation will listen to nothing but stories, why not tell them?"
The book thus referred to was "Poganuc People,"
that series of delightful reminiscences of the
In January, 1879, she wrote from Mandarin to Dr. Holmes:--
DEAR DOCTOR,--I wish I could give to you and Mrs. Holmes the exquisite charm of this morning. My window is wide open; it is a lovely, fresh, sunny day, and a great orange tree hung with golden balls closes the prospect from my window. The tree is about thirty feet high, and its leaves fairly glisten in the sunshine.
I sent "Poganuc People" to you and Mrs. Holmes as being among the few who know those old days. It is an extremely quiet story for these sensational days, when heaven and earth seem to be racked for a thrill; but as I get old I do love to think of those quiet, simple times when there was not a poor person in the parish, and the changing glories of the year were the only spectacle. We, that is the professor and myself, have been reading with much interest Motley's Memoir. That was a man to be proud of, a beauty, too (by your engraving), I never had the pleasure of a personal acquaintance.
I feel with you that we have come into the land of leave-taking. Hardly a paper but records the death of some of Mr. Stowe's associates. But the river is not so black as it seems, and there are clear days when the opposite shore is plainly visible, and now and then we catch a strain of music, perhaps even a gesture of recognition. They are thinking of us, without doubt, on the other side. My daughters and I have been reading "Elsie Venner" again. Elsie is one of my especial friends,--poor, dear child!--and all your theology in that book I subscribe to with both hands.
Does not the Bible plainly tell us of a time when there shall be no more pain? That is to be the end and crown of the Messiah's mission, when God shall wipe all tears away. My face is set that way, and yours, too, I trust and believe.
Mr. Stowe sends hearty and affectionate remembrance both to you and Mrs. Holmes, and I am, as ever, truly yours,
H, B, STOWE.
About this time Mrs. Stowe paid a visit to her brother Charles, at Newport, Fla., and, continuing her journey to New Orleans, was made to feel how little of bitterness towards her was felt by the best class of Southerners, In both New Orleans and Tallahassee she was warmly welcomed, and tendered public receptions that gave equal pleasure to her and to the throngs of cultivated people who attended them. She was also greeted everywhere with intense enthusiasm by the colored people, who, whenever they knew of her coming, thronged the railway stations in order to obtain a glimpse of her whom they venerated above all women.
The return to her Mandarin home each succeeding winter was
always a source of intense pleasure to this true lover of nature in its
brightest and tenderest moods. Each recurring season was filled with new
delights. In December, 1879, she writes to her son, now married and settled as
a minister in
DEAR CHILDREN,--Well, we have stepped from December to June, and this morning is sunny and dewy, with a fresh sea-breeze giving life to the air. I have just been out to cut a great bunch of roses and lilies, though the garden is grown into such a jungle that I could hardly get about in it. The cannas, and dwarf bananas, and roses are all tangled together, so that I can hardly thread my way among them. I never in my life saw anything range and run rampant over the ground as cannas do. The ground is littered with fallen oranges, and the place looks shockingly untidy, but so beautiful that I am quite willing to forgive its disorder.
We got here Wednesday evening about nine o'clock, and found
all the neighbors waiting to welcome us on the wharf. The Meads, and Cranes,
and Webbs, and all the rest were there, while the black population was in a
frenzy of joy. Your father is quite well. The sea had its usual exhilarating
effect upon him. Before we left
The last winter passed in this well-loved Southern home was
that of 1883-84, for the following season Professor Stowe's health was in too
precarious a state to permit him to undertake the long journey from
In January, 1884, Mrs. Stowe writes:--
"Mandarin looks very gay and airy now with its new villas, and our new church and rectory. Our minister is perfect. I wish you could know him. He wants only physical strength. In everything else he is all one could ask.
"It is a bright, lovely morning, and four
orange-pickers are busy gathering our fruit. Our trees on the bluff have done
better than any in
"This winter I study nothing but Christ's life. First I read Farrar's account and went over it carefully. Now I am reading Geikie. It keeps my mind steady, and helps me to bear the languor and pain, of which I have more than usual this winter."
PROFESSOR STOWE THE ORIGINAL OF "HARRY" IN "OLDTOWN FOLKS."--PROFESSOR STOWE'S LETTER TO GEORGE ELIOT.--HER REMARKS ON THE SAME.--PROFESSOR STOWE'S NARRATIVE OF HIS YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES IN THE WORLD OF SPIRITS. --PROFESSOR STOWE'S INFLUENCE ON MRS. STOWE'S LITERARY LIFE.--GEORGE ELIOT ON "OLDTOWN FOLKS."
This biography would be signally incomplete without some mention of the birth, childhood, early associations, and very peculiar and abnormal psychological experiences of Professor Stowe. Aside from the fact of Dr. Stowe's being Mrs. Stowe's husband, and for this reason entitled to notice in any sketch of her life, however meagre, he is the original of the "visionary boy" in "Oldtown Folks;" and "Oldtown Fireside Stories" embody the experiences of his childhood and youth among the grotesque and original characters of his native town.
March 26, 1882, Professor Stowe wrote the following characteristic letter to Mrs. Lewes:--
MRS. LEWES,--I fully sympathize with you in your disgust with Hume and the professing mediums generally.
Hume spent his boyhood in my father's native town, among my relatives and acquaintances, and he was a disagreeable, nasty boy. But he certainly has qualities which science has not yet explained, and some of his doings are as real as they are strange. My interest in the subject of spiritualism arises from the fact of my own experience, more than sixty years ago, in my early childhood. I then never thought of questioning the objective reality of all I saw, and supposed that everybody else had the same experience. Of what this experience was you may gain some idea from certain passages in "Oldtown Folks."
The same experiences continue yet, but with serious doubts as to the objectivity of the scenes exhibited. I have noticed that people who have remarkable and minute answers to prayer, such as Stilling, Franke, Lavater, are for the most part of this peculiar temperament. Is it absurd to suppose that some peculiarity in the nervous system, in the connecting link between soul and body, may bring some, more than others, into an almost abnormal contact with the spirit-world (for example, Jacob Boehme and Swedenborg), and that, too, without correcting their faults, or making them morally better than others? Allow me to say that I have always admired the working of your mind, there is about it such a perfect uprightness and uncalculating honesty. I think you are a better Christian without church or theology than most people are with both, though I am, and always have been in the main, a Calvinist of the Jonathan Edwards school. God bless you! I have a warm side for Mr. Lewes on account of his Goethe labors.
Goethe has been my admiration for more than forty years. In
1830 I got hold of his "Faust," and for two gloomy, dreary November
days, while riding through the woods of
C. E. STOWE.
In a letter to Mrs. Stowe, written June 24, 1872, Mrs. Lewes alludes to Professor Stowe's letter as follows: "Pray give my special thanks to the professor for his letter. His handwriting, which does really look like Arabic,--a very graceful character, surely,--happens to be remarkably legible to me, and I did not hesitate over a single word. Some of the words, as expressions of fellowship, were very precious to me, and I hold it very good of him to write to me that best sort of encouragement. I was much impressed with the fact--which you have told me--that he was the original of the "visionary boy" in "Oldtown Folks;" and it must be deeply interesting to talk with him on his experience. Perhaps I am inclined, under the influence of the facts, physiological and psychological, which have been gathered of late years, to give larger place to the interpretation of vision-seeing as subjective than the professor would approve. It seems difficult to limit--at least to limit with any precision--the possibility of confounding sense by impressions derived from inward conditions with those which are directly dependent on external stimulus. In fact, the division between within and without in this sense seems to become every year a more subtle and bewildering problem."
In 1834, while Mr. Stowe was a professor in Lane Theological Seminary at Cincinnati, Ohio, he wrote out a history of his youthful adventures in the spirit-world, from which the following extracts are taken:--
"I have often thought I would communicate to some scientific physician a particular account of a most singular delusion under which I lived from my earliest infancy till the fifteenth or sixteenth year of my age, and the effects of which remain very distinctly now that I am past thirty.
"The facts are of such a nature as to be indelibly impressed upon my mind they appear to me to be curious, and well worth the attention of the psychologist. I regard the occurrences in question as the more remarkable because I cannot discover that I possess either taste or talent for fiction or poetry. I have barely imagination enough to enjoy, with a high degree of relish, the works of others in this department of literature, but have never felt able or disposed to engage in that sort of writing myself. On the contrary, my style has always been remarkable for its dry, matter-of-fact plainness: my mind has been distinguished for its quickness and adaptedness to historical and literary investigations, for ardor and perseverance in pursuit of the knowledge of facts,--_eine verständige Richtung_, as the Germans would say,--rather than for any other quality; and the only talent of a higher kind which I am conscious of possessing is a turn for accurate observation of men and things, and a certain broad humor and drollery.
[Illustration: C. Z. Stowe]
"From the hour of my birth I have been constitutionally feeble, as were my parents before me, and my nervous system easily excitable. With care, however, I have kept myself in tolerable health, and my life has been an industrious one, for my parents were poor and I have always been obliged to labor for my livelihood.
"With these preliminary remarks, I proceed to the curious details of my psychological history. As early as I can remember anything, I can remember observing a multitude of animated and active objects, which I could see with perfect distinctness, moving about me, and could sometimes, though seldom, hear them make a rustling noise, or other articulate sounds; but I could never touch them. They were in all respects independent of the sense of touch, and incapable of being obstructed in any way by the intervention of material objects; I could see them at any distance, and through any intervening object, with as much ease and distinctness as if they were in the room with me, and directly before my eyes. I could see them passing through the floors, and the ceilings, and the walls of the house, from one apartment to another, in all directions, without a door, or a keyhole, or crevice being open to admit them. I could follow them with my eyes to any distance, or directly through or just beneath the surface, or up and down, in the midst of boards and timbers and bricks, or whatever else would stop the motion or intercept the visibleness of all other objects. These appearances occasioned neither surprise nor alarm, except when they assumed some hideous and frightful form, or exhibited some menacing gesture, for I became acquainted with them, as soon as with any of the objects of sense. As to the reality of their existence and the harmlessness of their character, I knew no difference between them and any other of the objects which met my eye. They were as familiar to me as the forms of my parents and my brother; they made up a part of my daily existence, and were as really the subjects of my consciousness as the little bench on which I sat in the corner by my mother's knee, or the wheels and sticks and strings with which I amused myself upon the floor. I indeed recognized a striking difference between them and the things which I could feel and handle, but to me this difference was no more a matter of surprise than that which I observed between my mother and the black woman who so often came to work for her; or between my infant brother and the little spotted dog Brutus of which I was so fond. There was no time, or place, or circumstance, in which they did not occasionally make their appearance. Solitude and silence, however, were more favorable to their appearance than company and conversation. They were more pleased with candle-light than the daylight. They were most numerous, distinct, and active when I was alone and in the dark, especially when my mother had laid me in bed and returned to her own room with the candle. At such times, I always expected the company of my serial visitors, and counted upon it to amuse me till I dropped asleep. Whenever they failed to make their appearance, as was sometimes the case, I felt lonely and discontented. I kept up a lively conversation with them,--not by language or by signs, for the attempt on my part to speak or move would at once break the charm and drive them away in a fret, but by a peculiar sort of spiritual intercommunion.
"When their attention was directed towards me, I could feel and respond to all their thoughts and feelings, and was conscious that they could in the same manner feel and respond to mine. Sometimes they would take no notice of me, but carry on a brisk conversation among themselves, principally by looks and gestures, with now and then an audible word. In fact, there were but few with whom I was very familiar. These few were much more constant and uniform in their visits than the great multitude, who were frequently changing, and too much absorbed in their own concerns to think much of me. I scarcely know how I can give an idea of their form and general appearance, for there are no objects in the material world with which I can compare them, and no language adapted to an accurate description of their peculiarities. They exhibited all possible combinations of size, shape, proportion, and color, but their most usual appearance was with the human form and proportion, but under a shadowy outline that seemed just ready to melt into the invisible air, and sometimes liable to the most sudden and grotesque changes, and with a uniform darkly bluish color spotted with brown, or brownish white. This was the general appearance of the multitude; but there were many exceptions to this description, particularly among my more welcome and familiar visitors, as will be seen in the sequel."
"Besides these rational and generally harmless beings, there was another set of objects which never varied in their form or qualities, and were always mischievous and terrible. The fact of their appearance depended very much on the state of my health and feelings. If I was well and cheerful they seldom troubled me; but when sick or depressed they were sure to obtrude their hateful presence upon me. These were a sort of heavy clouds floating about overhead, of a black color, spotted with brown, in the shape of a very flaring inverted tunnel without a nozzle, and from ten to thirty or forty feet in diameter. They floated from place to place in great numbers, and in all directions, with a strong and steady progress, but with a tremulous, quivering, internal motion that agitated them in every part.
"Whenever they appproached, the rational phantoms were thrown into great consternation; and well it might be, for if a cloud touched any part of one of the rational phantoms it immediately communicated its own color and tremulous motion to the part it touched.
"In spite of all the efforts and convulsive struggles of the unhappy victim, this color and motion slowly, but steadily and uninteruptedly, proceeded to diffuse itself over every part of the body, and as fast as it did so the body was drawn into the cloud and became a part of its substance. It was indeed a fearful sight to see the contortions, the agonizing efforts, of the poor creatures who had been touched by one of these awful clouds, and were dissolving and melting into it by inches without the possibility of escape or resistance.
"This was the only visible object that had the least power over the phantoms, and this was evidently composed of the same material as themselves. The forms and actions of all these phantoms varied very much with the state of my health and animal spirits, but I never could discover that the surrounding material objects had any influence upon them, except in this one particular, namely, if I saw them in a neat, well furnished room, there was a neatness and polish in their form and motions; and, on the contrary, if I was in an unfinished, rough apartment, there was a corresponding rudeness and roughness in my aerial visitors. A corresponding difference was visible when I saw them in the woods or in the meadows, upon the water or upon the ground, in the air or among the stars."
"Every different apartment which I occupied had a different set of phantoms, and they always had a degree of correspondence to the circumstances in which they were seen. (It should be noted, however, that it was not so much the place where the phantoms themselves appeared to me to be, that affected their forms and movements, as the place in which I myself actually was while observing them. The apparent locality of the phantoms, it is true, had some influence, but my own actual locality had much more.)"
"Thus far I have attempted only a general outline of these curious experiences. I will now proceed to a detailed account of several particular incidents, for the sake of illustrating the general statements already made. I select a few from manifestations without number. I am able to ascertain dates from the following circumstances:--
"I was born in April, 1802, and my father died in July, 1808, after suffering for more than a year from a lingering organic disease. Between two and three years before his death he removed from the house in which I was born to another at a little distance from it. What occurred, therefore, before my father's last sickness, must have taken place during the first five years of my life, and whatever took place before the removal of the family must have taken place during the first three years of my life. Before the removal of the family I slept in a small upper chamber in the front part of the house, where I was generally alone for several hours in the evening and morning. Adjoining this room, and opening into it by a very small door, was a low, dark, narrow, unfinished closet, which was open on the other side into a ruinous, old chaise-house. This closet was a famous place for the gambols of the phantoms, but of their forms and actions I do not now retain any very distinct recollection. I only remember that I was very careful not to do anything that I thought would be likely to offend them; yet otherwise their presence caused me no uneasiness, and was not at all disagreeable to me.
"The first incident of which I have a distinct recollection was the following:--
"One night, as I was lying alone in my chamber with my little dog Brutus snoring beside my bed, there came out of the closet a very large Indian woman and a very small Indian man, with a huge bass-viol between them. The woman was dressed in a large, loose, black gown, secured around her waist by a belt of the same material, and on her head she wore a high, dark gray fur cap, shaped somewhat like a lady's muff, ornamented with a row of covered buttons in front, and open towards the bottom, showing a red lining. The man was dressed in a shabby, black-colored overcoat and a little round, black hat that fitted closely to his head. They took no notice of me, but were rather ill-natured towards each other, and seemed to be disputing for the possession of the bass-viol. The man snatched it away and struck upon it a few harsh, hollow notes, which I distinctly heard, and which seemed to vibrate through my whole body, with a strange, stinging sensation The woman then took it and appeared to play very intently and much to her own satisfaction, but without producing any sound that was perceptible by me. They soon left the chamber, and I saw them go down into the back kitchen, where they sat and played and talked with my mother. It was only when the man took the bow that I could hear the harsh, abrupt, disagreeable sounds of the instrument. At length they arose, went out of the back door, and sprang upon a large heap of straw and unthreshed beans, and disappeared with a strange, rumbling sound. This vision was repeated night after night with scarcely any variation while we lived in that house, and once, and once only, after the family had removed to the other house. The only thing that seemed to me unaccountable and that excited my curiosity was that there should be such a large heap of straw and beans before the door every night, when I could see nothing of it in the daytime. I frequently crept out of bed and stole softly down into the kitchen, and peeped out of the door to see if it was there very early in the morning.
"I attempted to make some inquiries of my mother, but as I was not as yet very skillful in the use of language, I could get no satisfaction out of her answers, and could see that my questions seemed to distress her. At first she took little notice of what I said, regarding it no doubt as the meaningless prattle of a thoughtless child. My persistence, however, seemed to alarm her, and I suppose that she feared for my sanity. I soon desisted from asking anything further, and shut myself more and more within myself. One night, very soon after the removal, when the house was still, and all the family were in bed, these unearthly musicians once made their appearance in the kitchen of the new house, and after looking around peevishly, and sitting with a discontented frown and in silence, they arose and went out of the back door, and sprang on a pile of cornstalks, and I saw them no more.
"Our new dwelling was a low-studded house of only one
story, and, instead of an upper chamber, I now occupied a bedroom that opened
into the kitchen. Within this bedroom, directly on the left hand of the door as
you entered from the kitchen, was the staircase which led to the garret; and,
as the room was unfinished, some of the boards which inclosed the staircase
were too short, and left a considerable space between them and the ceiling. One
of these open spaces was directly in front of my bed, so that when I lay upon
my pillow my face was opposite to it. Every night, after I had gone to bed and
the candle was removed, a very pleasant-looking human face would peer at me
over the top of that board, and gradually press forward his head, neck,
shoulders, and finally his whole body as far as the waist, through the opening,
and then, smiling upon me with great good-nature, would withdraw in the same
manner in which he had entered. He was a great favorite of mine; for though we
neither of us spoke, we perfectly understood, and were entirely devoted to,
each other. It is a singular fact that the features of this favorite phantom
bore a very close resemblance to those of a boy older than myself
whom I feared and hated: still the resemblance was so strong that I called him
by the same name,
"One night, after I had retired to bed and was looking
"As I looked on, full of eagerness, the devils struggled to force Brown down with them, and Brown struggled with the energy of desperation to save himself from their grip, and it seemed that the human was likely to prove too strong for the infernal. In this emergency one of the devils, panting for breath and covered with perspiration, beckoned to a strong, thick cloud that seemed to understand him perfectly, and, whirling up to Brown, touched his hand. Brown resisted stoutly, and struck out right and left at the cloud most furiously, but the usual effect was produced,--the hand grew black, quivered, and seemed to be melting into the cloud; then the arm, by slow degrees, and then the head and shoulders. At this instant Brown, collecting all his energies for one desperate effort, sprang at once into the centre of the cloud, tore it asunder, and descended to the ground, exclaiming, with a hoarse, furious voice that grated on my ear, 'There, I've got out; dam'me if I haven't!' This was the first word that had been spoken through the whole horrible scene. It was the first time I had ever seen a cloud fail to produce its appropriate result, and it terrified me so that I trembled from head to foot. The devils, however, did not seem to be in the least discouraged. One of them, who seemed to be the leader, went away and quickly returned bringing with him an enormous pair of rollers fixed in an iron frame, such as are used in iron-mills for the purpose of rolling out and slitting bars of iron, except instead of being turned by machinery, each roller was turned by an immense crank. Three of the devils now seized Brown and put his feet to the rollers, while two others stood, one at each crank, and began to roll him in with a steady strain that was entirely irresistible. Not a word was spoken, not a sound was heard; but the fearful struggles and terrified, agonizing looks of Brown were more than I could endure. I sprang from my bed and ran through the kitchen into the room where my parents slept, and entreated that they would permit me to spend the remainder of the night with them. After considerable parleying they assured me that nothing could hurt me, and advised me to go back to bed. I replied that I was not afraid of their hurting me, but I couldn't bear to see them acting so with C. Brown. 'Poh! poh! you foolish boy,' replied my father, sternly. 'You've only been dreaming; go right back to bed, or I shall have to whip you.' Knowing that there was no other alternative, I trudged back through the kitchen with all the courage I could muster, cautiously entered my room, where I found everything quiet, there being neither cloud, nor devil, nor anything of the kind to be seen, and getting into bed I slept quietly till morning. The next day I was rather sad and melancholy, but kept all my troubles to myself, through fear of Brown. This happened before my father's sickness, and consequently between the four and six years of my age."
"During my father's sickness and after his death I
lived with my grandmother; and when I had removed to her house I forever lost
"I awoke one bright, moonlight night, and found a large, full-length human skeleton of an ashy-blue color in bed with me! I screamed out with fright, and soon summoned the family around me. I refused to tell the cause of my alarm, but begged permission to occupy another bed, which was granted.
"For the remainder of the night I slept but little; but I saw upon the window-stools companies of little fairies, about six inches high, in white robes, gamboling and dancing with incessant merriment. Two of them, a male and female, rather taller than the rest, were dignified with a crown and sceptre. They took the kindest notice of me, smiled upon me with great benignity, and seemed to assure me of their protection. I was soothed and cheered by their presence, though after all there was a sort of sinister and selfish expression in their countenances which prevented my placing implicit confidence in them.
"Up to this time I had never doubted the real existence of these phantoms, nor had I ever suspected that other people had not seen them as distinctly as myself. I now, however, began to discover with no little anxiety that my friends had little or no knowledge of the aerial beings among whom I have spent my whole life; that my allusions to them were not understood, and all complaints respecting them were laughed at. I had never been disposed to say much about them, and this discovery confirmed me in my silence. It did not, however, affect my own belief, or lead me to suspect that my imaginations were not realities.
"During the whole of this period I took great pleasure in walking out alone, particularly in the evening. The most lonely fields, the woods, and the banks of the river, and other places most completely secluded, were my favorite resorts, for there I could enjoy the sight of innumerable aerial beings of all sorts, without interruption. Every object, even every shaking leaf, seemed to me to be animated by some living soul, whose nature in some degree corresponded to its habitation. I spent much of my life in these solitary rambles; there were particular places to which I gave names, and visited them at regular intervals. Moonlight was particularly agreeable to me, but most of all I enjoyed a thick, foggy night. At times, during these walks, I would be excessively oppressed by an indefinite and deep feeling of melancholy. Without knowing why, I would be so unhappy as to wish myself annihilated, and suddenly it would occur to me that my friends at home were suffering some dreadful calamity, and so vivid would be the impression, that I would hasten home with all speed to see what had taken place. At such seasons I felt a morbid love for my friends that would almost burn up my soul, and yet, at the least provocation from them, I would fly into an uncontrollable passion and foam like a little fury. I was called a dreadful-tempered boy; but the Lord knows that I never occasioned pain to any animal, whether human or brutal, without suffering untold agonies in consequence of it. I cannot, even now, without feelings of deep sorrow, call to mind the alternate fits of corroding melancholy, irritation, and bitter remorse which I then endured. These fits of melancholy were most constant and oppressive during the autumnal months.
"I very early learned to read, and soon became immoderately attached to books. In the Bible I read the first chapters of Job, and parts of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation, with most intense delight, and with such frequency that I could repeat large portions from memory long before the age at which boys in the country are usually able to read plain sentences. The first large book besides the Bible that I remember reading was Morse's 'History of New England,' which I devoured with insatiable greediness, particularly those parts which relate to Indian wars and witchcraft. I was in the habit of applying to my grandmother for explanations, and she would relate to me, while I listened with breathless attention, long stories from Mather's 'Magnalia' or (Mag-nilly, as she used to call it), a work which I earnestly longed to read, but of which, I never got sight till after my twentieth year. Very early there fell into my hands an old school-book, called 'The Art of Speaking,' containing numerous extracts from Milton and Shakespeare. There was little else in the book that interested me, but these extracts from the two great English poets, though there were many things in them that I did not well understand, I read again and again, with increasing pleasure at every perusal, till I had nearly committed them to memory, and almost thumbed the old book into nonenity. But of all the books that I read at this period, there was none that went to my heart like Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress.' I read it and re-read it night and day; I took it to bed with me and hugged it to my bosom while I slept; every different edition that I could find I seized upon and read with as eager a curiosity as if it had been a new story throughout; and I read with the unspeakable satisfaction of most devoutly believing that everything which 'Honest John' related was a real verity, an actual occurrence. Oh that I could read that most inimitable book once more with the same solemn conviction of its literal truth, that I might once more enjoy the same untold ecstacy!
"One other remark it seems proper to make before I proceed further to details. The appearance, and especially the motions, of my aerial visitors were intimately connected, either as cause or effect, I cannot determine which, with certain sensations of my own. Their countenances generally expressed pleasure or pain, complaisance or anger, according to the mood of my own mind: if they moved from place to place without moving their limbs, with that gliding motion appropriate to spirits, I felt in my stomach that peculiar tickling sensation which accompanies a rapid, progressive movement through the air; and if they went off with an uneasy trot, I felt an unpleasant jarring through my frame. Their appearance was always attended with considerable effort and fatigue on my part: the more distinct and vivid they were, the more would my fatigue be increased; and at such times my face was always pale, and my eyes unusually sparkling and wild. This continued to be the case after I became satisfied that it was all a delusion of the imagination, and it so continues to the present day."
It is not surprising that Mrs. Stowe should have felt herself impelled to give literary form to an experience so exceptional. Still more must this be the case when the early associations of this exceptional character were as amusing and interesting as they are shown forth in "Oldtown Fireside Stories."
None of the incidents or characters embodied in those sketches are ideal. The stories are told as they came from Mr. Stowe's lips, with little or no alteration. Sam Lawson was a real character. In 1874 Mr. Whittier wrote to Mrs. Stowe: "I am not able to write or study much, or read books that require thought, without suffering, but I have Sam Lawson lying at hand, and, as Corporal Trim said of Yorick's sermon, 'I like it hugely.'"
The power and literary value of these stories lie in the fact that they are true to nature. Professor Stowe was himself an inimitable mimic and story-teller. No small proportion of Mrs. Stowe's success as a literary woman is to be attributed to him. Not only was he possessed of a bright, quick mind, but wonderful retentiveness of memory. Mrs. Stowe was never at a loss for reliable information on any subject as long as the professor lived. He belonged, to that extinct species, the "general scholar." His scholarship was not critical in the modern sense of the word, but in the main accurate, in spite of his love for the marvelous.
It is not out of place to give a little idea of his power in character-painting, as it shows how suggestive his conversation and letters must have been to a mind like that of Mrs. Stowe:--
I have had a real good time this week writing my oration. I
have strolled over my old walking places, and found the same old stone walls,
the same old footpaths through the rye-fields, the same bends in the river, the
same old bullfrogs with their green spectacles on, the same old terrapins
sticking up their heads and bowing as I go by; and nothing was wanting but my
wife to talk with to make all complete. . . . I have had some rare talks with
old uncle "Jaw" Bacon, and other old characters, which you ought to
have heard. The Curtises have been flooding Uncle "Jaw's" meadows,
and he is in a great stew about it. He says: "I took and tell'd your Uncle
Izic to tell them 'ere Curtises that if the Devil did n't git 'em far flowing
my medder arter that sort, I didn't see no use o' havin' any Devil."
"Have you talked with the Curtises yourself?" "Yes, hang the
sarcy dogs! and they took and tell'd me that they'd take and flow clean up to
my front door, and make me go out and in in a boat." "Why don't you
go to law?" "Oh, they keep alterin' and er tinkerin'-up the laws so
Mother and Aunt Nabby each keep separate establishments. First Aunt Nabby gets up in the morning and examines the sink, to see whether it leaks and rots the beam. She then makes a little fire, gets her little teapot of bright shining tin, and puts into it a teaspoonful of black tea, and so prepares her breakfast.
By this time mother comes creeping down-stairs, like an old tabby-cat out of the ash-hole; and she kind o' doubts and reckons whether or no she had better try to git any breakfast, bein' as she 's not much appetite this mornin'; but she goes to the leg of bacon and cuts off a little slice, reckons sh'll broil it; then goes and looks at the coffee-pot and reckons sh'll have a little coffee; don't exactly know whether it's good for her, but she don't drink much. So while Aunt Nabby is sitting sipping her tea and munching her bread and butter with a matter-of-fact certainty and marvelous satisfaction, mother goes doubting and reckoning round, like Mrs. Diffidence in Doubting Castle, till you see rising up another little table in another corner of the room, with a good substantial structure of broiled ham and coffee, and a boiled egg or two, with various et ceteras, which Mrs. Diffidence, after many desponding ejaculations, finally sits down to, and in spite of all presentiments makes them fly as nimbly as Mr. Ready-to-Halt did Miss Much-afraid when he footed it so well with her on his crutches in the dance on the occasion of Giant Despair's overthrow.
I have thus far dined alternately with mother and Aunt Susan, not having yet been admitted to Aunt Nabby's establishment. There are now great talkings, and congresses and consultations of the allied powers, and already rumors are afloat that perhaps all will unite their forces and dine at one table, especially as Harriet and little Hattie are coming, and there is no knowing what might come out in the papers if there should be anything a little odd.
Mother is very well, thin as a hatchet and smart as a steel trap; Aunt Nabby, fat and easy as usual; for since the sink is mended, and no longer leaks and rots the beam, and she has nothing to do but watch it, and Uncle Bill has joined the Washingtonians and no longer drinks rum, she is quite at a loss for topics of worriment.
Uncle Ike has had a little touch of palsy and is rather
feeble. He says that his legs and arms have rather gi'n out, but his head and
pluck are as good as they ever were. I told him that our sister Kate was very
much in the same fix, whereat he was considerably affected, and opened the
crack in his great pumpkin of a face, displaying the same two rows of great
white ivories which have been my admiration from my youth up. He is sixty-five
years of age, and has never lost a tooth, and was never in his life more than
fifteen miles from the spot where he was born, except once, in the
ever-memorable year 1819, when I was at
In a sudden glow of adventurous rashness he undertook to go
after me and bring me home for vacation; and he actually performed the whole
journey of thirty miles with his horse and wagon, and slept at a tavern a whole
night, a feat of bravery on which he has never since ceased to plume himself. I
well remember that awful night in the tavern in the remote region of
Mrs. Stowe has woven this incident into chapter thirty-two of "Oldtown Folks," where Uncle Ike figures as Uncle Jacob.
Mrs. Stowe had misgivings as to the reception which
"Oldtown Folks" would meet in
11, 1869 :--
"I have received and read 'Oldtown Folks.' I think that few of your readers can have felt more interest than I have felt in that picture of an elder generation; for my interest in it has a double root,--one in my own love for our old-fashioned provincial life, which had its affinities with a contemporary life, even all across the Atlantic, and of which I have gathered glimpses in different phases from my father and mother, with their relations; the other is my experimental acquaintance with some shades of Calvinistic orthodoxy. I think your way of presenting the religious convictions which are not your own, except by the way of indirect fellowship, is a triumph of insight and true tolerance. . . . Both Mr. Lewes and I are deeply interested in the indications which the professor gives of his peculiar psychological experience, and we should feel it a great privilege to learn much more of it from his lips. It is a rare thing to have such an opportunity of studying exceptional experience in the testimony of a truthful and in every way distinguished mind."
"Oldtown Folks" is of interest as being
undoubtedly the last of Mrs. Stowe's works which will outlive the generation
for which it was written. Besides its intrinsic merit as a work of fiction, it
has a certain historic value as being a faithful study of "
Whether Mrs. Stowe was far enough away from the time and people she attempts to describe to "make (her) mind as still and passive as a looking-glass or a mountain lake, and to give merely the images reflected there," is something that will in great part determine the permanent value of this work. Its interest as a story merely is of course ephemeral.
MRS. STOWE'S STATEMENT OF HER OWN CASE.--THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH SHE FIRST MET LADY BYRON.--LETTERS TO LADY BYRON.--LETTER TO DR. HOLMES WHEN ABOUT TO PUBLISH "THE TRUE STORY OF LADY BYRON'S LIFE" IN THE "ATLANTIC."--DR. HOLMES'S REPLY.--THE CONCLUSION OF THE MATTER.
It seems impossible to avoid the unpleasant episode in Mrs. Stowe's life known as the "Byron Controversy." It will be our effort to deal with the matter as colorlessly as is consistent with an adequate setting forth of the motives which moved Mrs. Stowe to awaken this unsavory discussion. In justification of her action in this matter, Mrs. Stowe says:--
"What interest have you and I, my brother and my sister, in this short life of ours, to utter anything but the truth? Is not truth between man and man, and between man and woman, the foundation on which all things rest? Have you not, every individual of you, who must hereafter give an account yourself alone to God, an interest to know the exact truth in this matter, and a duty to perform as respects that truth? Hear me, then, while I tell you the position in which I stood, and what was my course in relation to it.
"A shameless attack on my friend's memory had appeared
in the 'Blackwood' of July, 1869, branding Lady Byron as the vilest of
criminals, and recommending the Guiccioli book to a Christian public as
interesting from the very fact that it was the avowed production of Lord
Byron's mistress. No efficient protest was made against this outrage in
"Its statements--with those of the 'Blackwood,' 'Pall
Mall Gazette,' and other English periodicals--were being propagated through all
the young reading and writing world of
It is hardly necessary to recapitulate, at any great length, facts already so familiar to the reading public; it may be sufficient simply to say that after the appearance in 1868 of the Countess Guiccioli's "Recollections of Lord Byron," Mrs. Stowe felt herself called upon to defend the memory of her friend from what she esteemed to be falsehoods and slanders. To accomplish this object, she prepared for the "Atlantic Monthly" of September, 1869, an article, "The True Story of Lady Byron's Life." Speaking of her first impressions of Lady Byron, Mrs. Stowe says:--
"I formed her acquaintance in the year 1853, during my
first visit to
"'There was awe in the homage that she drew;
Her spirit seemed as seated on a throne.'"
It was in the fall of 1856, on the occasion of Mrs. Stowe's
second visit to
"After lunch, I retired with Lady Byron, and my sister remained with her friends. I should here remark that the chief subject of the conversation which ensued was not entirely new to me."
"In the interval between my first and second visits to
"Those who accuse Lady Byron of being a person fond of talking upon this subject, and apt to make unconsidered confidences, can have known very little of her, of her reserve, and of the apparent difficulty she had in speaking on subjects nearest her heart. Her habitual calmness and composure of manner, her collected dignity on all occasions, are often mentioned by her husband, sometimes with bitterness, sometimes with admiration. He says: 'Though I accuse Lady Byron of an excess of self-respect, I must in candor admit that, if ever a person had excuse for an extraordinary portion of it, she has, as in all her thoughts, words, and deeds she is the most decorous woman that ever existed, and must appear, what few I fancy could, a perfectly refined gentlewoman, even to her _femme de chambre_.'
"This calmness and dignity were never more manifested than in this interview. In recalling the conversation at this distance of time, I cannot remember all the language used. Some particular words and forms of expression I do remember, and those I give; and in other cases I give my recollection of the substance of what was said.
"There was something awful to me in the intensity of repressed emotion which she showed as she proceeded. The great fact upon which all turned was stated in words that were unmistakable."
Mrs. Stowe goes on to give minutely Lady Byron's conversation, and concludes by saying:--
Of course I did not listen to this story as one who was investigating its worth. I received it as truth, and the purpose for which it was communicated was not to enable me to prove it to the world, but to ask my opinion whether she should show it to the world before leaving it. The whole consultation was upon the assumption that she had at her command such proofs as could not be questioned. Concerning what they were I did not minutely inquire, only, in answer to a general question, she said that she had letters and documents in proof of her story. Knowing Lady Byron's strength of mind, her clear-headedness, her accurate habits, and her perfect knowledge of the matter, I considered her judgment on this point decisive. I told her that I would take the subject into consideration and give my opinion in a few days. That night, after my sister and myself had retired to our own apartment, I related to her the whole history, and we spent the night in talking it over. I was powerfully impressed with the justice and propriety of an immediate disclosure; while she, on the contrary, represented the fatal consequences that would probably come upon Lady Byron from taking such a step.
Before we parted the next day, I requested Lady Byron to
give me some memoranda of such dates and outlines of the general story as would
enable me better to keep it in its connection, which she did. On giving me the
paper, Lady Byron requested me to return it to her when it had ceased to be of
use to me for the purpose intended. Accordingly, a day or two after, I inclosed
it to her in a hasty note, as I was then leaving
DEAREST FRIEND,--I return these. They have held mine eyes waking. How strange! How unaccountable! Have you ever subjected the facts to the judgment of a medical man, learned in nervous pathology? Is it not insanity?
"Great wits to madness nearly are allied, And thin partitions do their bounds divide."
But my purpose to-night is not to write to you fully what I
think of this matter. I am going to write to you from
(The rest of the letter was taken up in the final details of a charity in which Lady Byron had been engaged with me in assisting an unfortunate artist. It concludes thus:)
I write now in all haste, _en route_ for
H. B. S.
The next letter is as follows:--
DEAR LADY BYRON,--The Kansas Committee have written me a letter desiring me to express to Miss ---- their gratitude for the five pounds she sent them. I am not personally acquainted with her, and must return these acknowledgments through you.
I wrote you a day or two since, inclosing the reply of the Kansas Committee to you.
On that subject on which you spoke to me the last time we were together, I have thought often and deeply. I have changed my mind somewhat. Considering the peculiar circumstances of the case, I could wish that the sacred veil of silence, so bravely thrown over the past, should never be withdrawn during the time that you remain with us. I would say then, leave all with some discreet friends, who, after both have passed from earth, shall say what was due to justice. I am led to think this by seeing how low, how unworthy, the judgments of this world are; and I would not that what I so much respect, love, and revere should be placed within reach of its harpy claw, which pollutes what it touches. The day will yet come which will bring to light every hidden thing. "There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known;" and so justice will not fail.
Such, my dear friend, are my thoughts; different from what they were since first I heard that strange, sad history. Meanwhile I love you forever, whether we meet again on earth or not.
H. B. S.
Before her article appeared in print, Mrs. Stowe addressed
the following letter to Dr. Holmes in
DEAR DOCTOR,--I am going to ask help of you, and I feel that confidence in your friendship that leads me to be glad that I have a friend like you to ask advice of. In order that you may understand fully what it is, I must go back some years and tell you about it.
When I went to
Lady Byron, as you must perceive, has all her life lived under a weight of slanders and false imputations laid upon her by her husband. Her own side of the story has been told only to that small circle of confidential friends who needed to know it in order to assist her in meeting the exigencies which it imposed on her. Of course it has thrown the sympathy mostly on his side, since the world generally has more sympathy with impulsive incorrectness than with strict justice.
At that time there was a cheap edition of Byron's works in contemplation, meant to bring them into circulation among the masses, and the pathos arising from the story of his domestic misfortunes was one great means relied on for giving it currency.
Under these circumstances some of Lady Byron's friends had proposed the question to her whether she had not a responsibility to society for the truth; whether she did right to allow these persons to gain influence over the popular mind by a silent consent to an utter falsehood. As her whole life had been passed in the most heroic self-abnegation and self sacrifice, the question was now proposed to her whether one more act of self-denial was not required of her, namely, to declare _the truth_, no matter at what expense to her own feelings.
For this purpose she told me she wished to recount the whole story to a person in whom she had confidence,--a person of another country, and out of the whole sphere of personal and local feelings which might be supposed to influence those in the country and station in life where the events really happened,--in order that I might judge whether anything more was required of her in relation to this history.
The interview had almost the solemnity of a deathbed confession, and Lady Byron told me the history which I have embodied in an article to appear in the "Atlantic Monthly." I have been induced to prepare it by the run which the Guiccioli book is having, which is from first to last an unsparing attack on Lady Byron's memory by Lord Byron's mistress.
When you have read my article, I want, _not_ your advice as to whether the main facts shall be told, for on this point I am so resolved that I frankly say advice would do me no good. But you might help me, with your delicacy and insight, to make the _manner of telling_ more perfect, and I want to do it as wisely and well as such story can be told.
My post-office address after July 1st will be Westport
Point, Bristol Co.,
Very truly yours, H. B. STOWE.
In reply to the storm of controversy aroused by the publication of this article, Mrs. Stowe made a more extended effort to justify the charges which she had brought against Lord Byron, in a work published in 1869, "Lady Byron Vindicated." Immediately after the publication of this work, she mailed a copy to Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, accompanied by the following note:--
DEAR DOCTOR,--. . . In writing this book, which I now take
the liberty of sending to you, I have been in . . . a "critical
place." It has been a strange, weird sort of experience, and I have had
not a word to say to anybody, though often thinking of you and wishing I could
have a little of your help and sympathy in getting out what I saw. I think of
you very much, and rejoice to see the _hold_ your works get on
From yours truly,
H. B. STOWE.
Mrs. Stowe also published in 1870, through Sampson Low &
While she was being on all hands effectively, and evidently in some quarters with rare satisfaction, roundly abused for the article, and her consequent responsibility in bringing this unsavory discussion so prominently before the public mind, she received the following letter from Dr. 0. W. Holmes:--
MY DEAR MRS. STOWE,--I have been meaning to write to you for some time, but in the midst of all the wild and virulent talk about the article in the "Atlantic," I felt as if there was little to say until the first fury of the storm had blown over.
I think that we all perceive now that the battle is not to
be fought here, but in
As to the intrinsic evidence contained in the poems, I think
it confirms rather than contradicts the hypothesis of guilt. I do not think
I know your firm self-reliance, and your courage to proclaim the truth when any good end is to be served by it. It is to be expected that public opinion will be more or less divided as to the expediency of this revelation. . . .
Hoping that you have recovered from your indisposition,
I am Faithfully yours,
0. W. HOLMES.
While undergoing the most unsparing and pitiless criticism and brutal insult, Mrs. Stowe received the following sympathetic words from Mrs. Lewes (George Eliot):--
THE PRIORY, 21 NORTH BANK, _December_ 10, 1869.
MY DEAR FRIEND,--. . . In the midst of your trouble I was often thinking of you, for I feared that you were undergoing a considerable trial from the harsh and unfair judgments, partly the fruit of hostility glad to find an opportunity for venting itself, and partly of that unthinking cruelty which belongs to hasty anonymous journalism. For my own part, I should have preferred that the Byron question should never have been brought before the public, because I think the discussion of such subjects is injurious socially. But with regard to yourself, dear friend, I feel sure that, in acting on a different basis of impressions, you were impelled by pure, generous feeling. Do not think that I would have written to you of this point to express a judgment. I am anxious only to convey to you a sense of my sympathy and confidence, such as a kiss and a pressure of the hand could give if I were near you.
I trust that I shall hear a good account of Professor Stowe's health, as well as your own, whenever you have time to write me a word or two. I shall not be so unreasonable as to expect a long letter, for the hours of needful rest from writing become more and more precious as the years go on, but some brief news of you and yours will be especially welcome just now. Mr. Lewes unites with me in high regards to your husband and yourself, but in addition to that I have the sister woman's privilege of saying that I am always
Your affectionate friend,
M. H. LEWES.
CORRESPONDENCE WITH GEORGE ELIOT.--GEORGE ELIOT'S FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MRS. STOWE.--MRS. STOWE'S LETTER TO MRS. FOLLEN.--GEORGE ELIOT'S LETTER TO MRS. STOWE.--MRS. STOWE'S REPLY.--LIFE IN FLORIDA.--ROBERT DALE OWEN AND MODERN SPIRITUALISM.--GEORGE ELIOT'S LETTER ON THE PHENOMENA OF SPIRITUALISM.--MRS. STOWE'S DESCRIPTION OF SCENERY IN FLORIDA.--MRS. STOWE CONCERNING "MIDDLEMARCH."--GEORGE ELIOT TO MRS. STOWE DURING REV. H. W. BEECHER'S TRIAL.--MRS. STOWE CONCERNING HER LIFE EXPERIENCE WITH HER BROTHER, H. W. BEECHER, AND HIS TRIAL.--MRS. LEWES' LAST LETTER TO MRS. STOWE.--DIVERSE MENTAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THESE TWO WOMEN.--MRS. STOWE'S FINAL ESTIMATE OF MODERN SPIRITUALISM.
It is with a feeling of relief that we turn from one of the most disagreeable experiences of Mrs. Stowe's life to one of the most delightful, namely, the warm friendship of one of the most eminent women of this age, George Eliot.
There seems to have been some deep affinity of feeling that drew them closely together in spite of diversity of intellectual tastes.
George Eliot's attention was first personally attracted to Mrs. Stowe in 1853, by means of a letter which the latter had written to Mrs. Follen. Speaking of this incident she (George Eliot) writes: "Mrs. Follen showed me a delightful letter which she has just had from Mrs. Stowe, telling all about herself. She begins by saying, 'I am a little bit of a woman, rather more than forty, as withered and dry as a pinch of snuff; never very well worth looking at in my best days, and now a decidedly used-up article.' The whole letter is most fascinating, and makes one love her." [Footnote: George Eliot's Life, edited by J. W. Cross, vol. i.]
The correspondence between these two notable women was begun by Mrs. Stowe, and called forth the following extremely interesting letter from the distinguished English novelist:--
THE PRIORY, 21 NORTH BANK, _May_ 8,1869.
MY DEAR FRIEND,--I value very highly the warrant to call you
friend which your letter has given me. It lay awaiting me on our return the
other night from a nine weeks' absence in Italy, and it made me almost wish
that you could have a momentary vision of the discouragement,--nay, paralyzing despondency--in
which many days of my writing life have been passed, in order that you might
fully understand the good I find in such sympathy as yours, in such an
assurance as you give me that my work has been worth doing. But I will not
dwell on any mental sickness of mine. The best joy your words give me is the
sense of that sweet, generous feeling in you which dictated them. I shall
always be the richer because you have in this way made me know you better. I
must tell you that my first glimpse of you as a woman came through a letter of
yours, and charmed me very much. The letter was addressed to Mrs. Follen, and
one morning I called on her in
I have good hopes that your fears are groundless as to the obstacles your new book ("Oldtown Folks") may find here from its thorough American character. Most readers who are likely to be really influenced by writing above the common order will find that special aspect an added reason for interest and study; and I dare say you have long seen, as I am beginning