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heard their views and appreciated their situation ; she felt that justice required that their difficulties should be recognized and their virtues acknowledged. It was her object to show that the evils of slavery were the inherent evils of a bad system, and not always the fault of those who had become involved in it and were its actual administrators.
Then she was convinced that the presentation of slavery alone, in its most dreadful forms, would be a picture of such unrelieved horror and darkness as nobody could be induced to look at. Of set purpose, she sought to light up the darkness by humorous and grotesque episodes, and the presentation of the milder and more amusing phases of slavery, for which her recollection of the never-failing wit and drollery of her former colored friends in Ohio gave
her abundant material. As the story progressed, a young publisher, J. P. Jewett, of Boston, set his eye upon it, and made overtures for the publication of it in book form, to which she consented. After a while she had a letter from him
expressing his fears that she was making the story too long for a onevolume publication. He reminded her that it was an unpopular subject, and that people would not willingly hear much about it; that one short volume might possibly sell, but if it grew to two it might prove a fatal obstacle to its success. Mrs. Stowe replied that she did not make the story, that the story made itself, and that she could not stop it till it was done. The feeling that pursued her increased in intensity to the last, till with the death of Uncle Tom it seemed as if the whole vital force had left her. A feeling of profound discouragement came over her. Would anybody read it? Would anybody listen? Would this appeal, into which she had put heart, soul, mind, and strength, which she had written with her heart's blood, would it, too, go for nothing, as so many prayers and groans and entreaties of these poor suffering souls had already gone? There had just been a party of slaves who had been seized and thrown into prison in Washington for a vain effort to escape. They were, many of them, partially educated, cultivated young men and women, to whom slavery was intolerable. When they were retaken and marched through the streets of Washington, followed by a jeer ing crowd, one of them, named Emily Edmundson, answered one man who cried shame upon her, that she was not ashamed,
that she was proud that she and all the rest of them had made an effort for liberty! It was the sentiment of a heroine, but she and her sisters were condemned no less to the auction-block.
It was when the last proof-sheet had been sent to the office that Mrs. Stowe, alone and thoughtful, sat reading Horace Mann's eloquent plea for those young men and women, then about to be consigned to the slave warehouse of Bruin & Hill in Alexandria, a plea eloquent, impassioned, but vain, as all other pleas on that side had ever proved in all courts hitherto. It seemed to her that there was no hope, that nobody would hear, nobody would read, nobody would pity; that this frightful system, which had already pursued its victims into the free states, might at last even threaten them in Canada.
So, determined to leave nothing undone which remotely could help the cause she pleaded, she wrote one letter to Prince Albert to accompany a copy of her work; another to T. B. Macaulay, of whose father she had heard in her youth as an anti-slavery laborer; one to Charles Dickens, whose sympathy for the slave had been expressed more than once; one to Charles Kingsley, and one to Lord Carlisle. These letters were dispatched to their destination with early copies of the book, and all in due time acknowledged to the author.
“Uncle Tom's Cabin” was published March 20, 1852. The despondency of the author as to the question whether anybody would read or attend to her appeal was soon dispelled. Ten thousand copies were sold in a few days, and over three hundred thousand within a year, and eight power-presses, running day and night, were barely able to keep pace with the demand for it. It was read everywhere, apparently, and by everybody, and she soon began to hear echoes of sympathy all over the land. The indignation, the pity, the distress, that had long weighed upon her soul seemed to pass off from her, and into the readers of the book.
The following note from a lady, an intimate friend, was a specimen of many which the post daily brought her:
MY DEAR MRS. STOWE, -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 thoroughgoing abolitionist before, but your book has awakened so strong a feeling of indignation and of compassion, that I seem never to have had any feeling on this subject till now. But what can we do? Alas ! alas ! what can we do ? This storm of feeling has been raging, burning like a very fire in my bones all the livelong night, and through all my duties this morning it haunts me, I cannot away with it. Gladly would I have gone out in the midnight storm last night, and, like the blessed martyr of old, been stoned to death, if that could have rescued these oppressed and afflicted ones. But that would avail nothing. And now what am I doing? Just the most foolish thing in the world. Writing to you, who need no incitement ; to you, who have spun from your very vitals this tissue of agony and truths ; for I know, I feel, that there are burning drops of your heart's best blood here concentrated. To you, who need no encouragement or sympathy of mine, and whom I would not insult by praise, Oh no, you stand on too high an eminence for praise ; but methinks I see the prayers of the poor, the blessings of those who are ready to perish, gathering in clouds about you, and forming a halo round your beloved head. And surely the tears of gentle, sympathizing childhood, that are dropping about many a Christian hearthstone over the wrongs and cruelties depicted by you so touchingly, will water the sod and spring up in bright flowers at your feet. And better still, I know, — I see, in the flushing cheek, the clenched hand, and indignant eye of the young man, as he dashes down the book and paces the room to hide the tears that he is too proud to show, too powerless to restrain, that you are sowing seed which shall yet spring up to the glory of God, to the good of the poor slave, to the enfranchisement of our beloved though guilty country.
Mrs. Stowe at this period visited New York. It was just at the time of Jenny Lind's first visit to this country, when the young Swedish vocalist was the idol of the hour, and tickets to her concerts were selling at fabulous prices. Mrs. Stowe's friends, applying for tickets, found all sold ; but, on hearing of the application, the cantatrice immediately sent Mrs. Stowe two tickets to two of the best seats in the house. In reply to Mrs. Stowe's note of thanks came this answer:
May 23, 1852. MY DEAR MADAM, Allow me to express my most sincere thanks for your very kind letter, which I was very happy to receive. You must feel and know what 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” to-day or to-morrow with the bright sweet conscience of having been a strong, powerful 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.
A more cheering result was in the testimony of many colored persons and fugitive slaves, who said to her, “Since that book has come out, everybody is good to us ; we find friends everywhere. It's wonderful how kind everybody is.”
In one respect, Mrs. Stowe's expectations were strikingly different from fact. She had painted slave-holders as amiable, generous, and just. She had shown examples among them of the noblest and most beautiful traits of character; had admitted fully their temptations, their perplexities, and their difficulties, so that a friend of hers who had many relatives in the south wrote to her in exultation : “Your book is going to be the great pacificator; it will unite both north and south.” tation was that the professed abolitionists would denounce it as altogether too mild in its dealings with slave-holders. To her astonishment, it was the extreme abolitionists who received, and the entire south who rose up against it.
Whittier wrute to Garrison in May, 1852:
"It did me good to see thy handwriting, friend William, remind. ing me of the old days when we fought the beasts at Ephesus
Her expectogether in Philadelphia. Ah me! I am no longer able to take active part in the conflicts and skirmishes which are preparing the way for the great battle of Armageddon, the world-wide, final struggle between freedom and slavery, — but, sick or well, in the body or out, I shall be no unconcerned spectator. I bless God that, through the leadings of his Providence, I have a right to rejoice in the certain victory of the right.
“What a glorious work Harriet Beecher Stowe has wrought ! Thanks for the Fugitive Slave Law! Better for slavery that law had never been enacted, for it gave occasion for “Uncle Tom's Cabin'!”
In a letter from Garrison to Mrs. Stowe, he said that he estimated the value of anti-slavery writing by the abuse it brought. “Since Uncle Tom's Cabin' has been published," he adds, “all the defenders of slavery have let me alone, and are spending their strength in abusing you.” In fact, the postoffice began about this time to bring her threatening and insulting letters from the Legrees and Haleys of the slave-markets, - letters 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.”
After a little, however, responses began to come from across the water. The author had sent copies to Prince Albert, to Charles Dickens, to T. B. Macaulay, to Kingsley, and to Lord Carlisle. The receipt of the copy sent to Prince Albert was politely acknowledged, with thanks, by his private secretary. Her letter is here given :
TO HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE ALBERT :
The author of this work feels that she has an apology for presenting it to Prince Albert, because it concerns the great interests of humanity, and from those noble and enlarged views of human progress which she has at different times seen in his public speeches, she has inferred that he has an eye and a heart for all that concerns the development and welfare of the human family.
Ignorant of the forms of diplomatic address, and the etiquette of rank, may she be pardoned for speaking with the republican simplicity of her own country, as to one who possesses a nobility higher than that of rank or station.
This simple narrative is an honest attempt to enlist the sympathies