« PreviousContinue »
Efforts have been made to persuade these parents to put their sons to useful trades, but if they do this they are obliged to labor in the shops. with the slaves, and this being placed on a level with the colored people, they feel is a degradation they can not submit to, therefore they choose to bring up their sons to hunting and fishing.
Emily P. Burke, Reminiscences of Georgia (n. p., 1850), 205–211.
Death of Uncle Tom (1852)
BY HARRIET BEECHER STOWE
Mrs. Stowe lived in Cincinnati for many years, frequently visited the slave states, and acquired an accurate knowledge of slave life. She was greatly impressed with the effect of the fugitive-slave law passed in 1850, and wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin with the hope of bringing to the public mind a realizing sense of the actual condition of slavery. The popularity and influence of the book speedily made it a factor in the advancement of the anti-slavery cause. Its influence over women and the rising generation was especially cogent.. For Mrs, Stowe, see Mrs. Annie Fields, Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe. · Bibliography : George Bullen, Bibliographical Account of Uncle Tom's Cabin, in Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin (Houghton, Mifflin, & Co., Boston, 1884).
HE hunt was long, animated, and thorough, but unsuccessful; and, with grave, ironic exultation, Cassy looked down on Legree, as, weary and dispirited, he alighted from his horse.
"Now, Quimbo," said Legree, as he stretched himself down in the sitting-room, "you jest go and walk that Tom up here, right away! The old cuss is at the bottom of this yer whole matter; and I'll have it out of his old black hide, or I'll know the reason why!
Tom heard the message with a forewarning heart; for he knew all the plan of the fugitives' escape, and the place of their present concealment ; - he knew the deadly character of the man he had to deal with, and his despotic power. But he felt strong in God to meet death, rather than betray the helpless.
He sat his basket down by the row, and, looking up, said, "Into thy hands I commend my spirit! Thou hast redeemed me, oh Lord God of truth!" and then quietly yielded himself to the rough, brutal grasp with which Quimbo seized him.
"Ay, ay!" said the giant, as he dragged him along; "ye'll cotch it, I'll boun' Mas'r's back's up high! No sneaking out, now!
Tell ye, ye'll get it, and no mistake! See how ye'll look, now, helpin' Mas'r's niggers to run away! See what ye'll get ! "
The savage words none of them reached that ear! a higher voice there was saying, "Fear not them that kill the body, and, after that, have no more that they can do." Nerve and bone of that poor man's body vibrated to those words, as if touched by the finger of God; and he felt the strength of a thousand souls in one. As he passed along, the trees and bushes, the huts of his servitude, the whole scene of his degradation, seemed to whirl by him as the landscape by the rushing car. His soul throbbed, — his home was in sight,—and the hour of release seemed at hand.
“Well, Tom!" said Legree, walking up, and seizing him grimly by the collar of his coat, and speaking through his teeth, in a paroxysm of determined rage, "do you know I've made up my mind to KILL YOU?" "It's very likely, Mas'r," said Tom, calmly.
"I have," said Legree, with grim, terrible calmness, “done—just— that-thing, Tom, unless you'll tell me what you know about these yer gals!"
Tom stood silent.
"D'ye hear?" said Legree, stamping, with a roar like that of an incensed lion.
"I han't got nothing to tell, Mas'r," said Tom, with a slow, firm, delib
"Do you dare to tell me, ye old black Christian, ye don't know?” said Legree.
Tom was silent.
"Speak!" thundered Legree, striking him furiously. "Do you know anything?"
"I know, Mas'r; but I can't tell anything. I can die!"
Legree drew in a long breath; and, suppressing his rage, took Tom by the arm, and, approaching his face almost to his, said, in a terrible. voice, "Hark 'e, Tom!-ye think, 'cause I've let you off before, I don't mean what I say; but, this time, I've made up my mind, and counted the cost. You've always stood it out agin' me: now, I'll conquer ye, or kill ye! -one or t'other. I'll count every drop of blood there is in you, and take 'em, one by one, till ye give up!"
Tom looked up to his master, and answered, "Mas'r, if you was sick, or in trouble, or dying, and I could save ye, I'd give ye my heart's blood; and, if taking every drop of blood in this poor old body would save your
precious soul, I'd give 'em freely, as the Lord gave his for me. O, Mas'r! don't bring this great sin on your soul! It will hurt you more than 'twill me! Do the worst you can, my troubles'll be over soon; but, if ye don't repent, yours won't never end!"
Like a strange snatch of heavenly music, heard in the lull of a tempest, this burst of feeling made a moment's blank pause. Legree stood aghast, and looked at Tom; and there was such a silence, that the tick of the old clock could be heard, measuring, with silent touch, the last moments of mercy and probation to that hardened heart.
It was but a moment. There was one hesitating pause, one irresolute, relenting thrill, and the spirit of evil came back, with seven-fold vehemence; and Legree, foaming with rage, smote his victim to the ground.
Scenes of blood and cruelty are shocking to our ear and heart. What man has nerve to do, man has not nerve to hear. What brother-man and brother-Christian must suffer, cannot be told us, even in our secret chamber, it so harrows up the soul! And yet, oh my country! these things are done under the shadow of thy laws! O, Christ! thy church sees them, almost in silence!
But, of old, there was One whose suffering changed an instrument of torture, degradation and shame, into a symbol of glory, honor, and immortal life; and, where His spirit is, neither degrading stripes, nor blood, nor insults, can make the Christian's last struggle less than glorious. Was he alone, that long night, whose brave, loving spirit was bearing up, in that old shed, against buffeting and brutal stripes? Nay! There stood by him ONE,
the Son of God."
The tempter stood by him, too,
seen by him alone,
blinded by furious, despotic will,
every moment pressing him to shun that agony by the betrayal of the innocent. But the brave, true heart was firm on the Eternal Rock. Like his Master, he knew that, if he saved others, himself he could not save; nor could utmost extremity wring from him words, save of prayer and holy trust.
"He's most gone, Mas'r," said Sambo, touched, in spite of himself, by the patience of his victim.
"Pay away, till he gives up! Give it to him!
give it to him!" shouted Legree. "I'll take every drop of blood he has, unless he confesses!"
Tom opened his eyes, and looked upon his master. "Ye poor miserable critter!" he said, "there an't no more ye can do! I forgive ye, with all my soul !" and he fainted entirely away.
"I b'lieve, my soul, he's done for, finally," said Legree, stepping forward, to look at him. "Yes, he is! Well, his mouth's shut up, at last, - that's one comfort!"
Yes, Legree; but who shall shut up that voice in thy soul? that soul, past repentance, past prayer, past hope, in whom the fire that never shall be quenched is already burning!
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin (Boston, etc., 1852), II, 271–275 passim.
25. A Northern Apologist (1854)
BY REVEREND NEHEMIAH ADAMS
Adams was a prominent clergyman of Boston, whose favorable comments on slavery, based on personal inspection, were strongly condemned by his anti-slavery neighbors, and gave him the nickname of "South-Side Adams.” — Bibliography as in No. 23 above.
AKING all the favorable features and all the evils of southern
as to their bearing upon the slave, it
appears that, leaving out of view the liabilities to separation, to be a slave at the south is an evil or not according to the character or habits of the master. The master or mistress can make the relation of a slave the very best on earth for one who must be dependent. One can not be long at the south, and not see for himself that the perfection of human happiness in a serving class is found among certain slaves. There is nothing that approaches to it except the relation of certain servants and dependants of noble families in Great Britain; but at the south the relation and the happiness do not depend upon family and wealth; every householder may be a master or mistress to whom it will be a privilege to belong. Instances come to mind of servants in whose condition nothing is wanting to promote happiness in this world and preparation for the next; and the only source of disquietude in such cases you will hear thus expressed: "Master may die, and then I shall have to be free. I have laid up money, and am mentioned in the will, and my free papers are made out." Such servants sometimes select new masters, and pre
vail on them to buy them, preferring the feeling of protection, the gratification of loving and serving a white person, to abstract liberty.
Then there is another side to this picture. It is in the power of a master or mistress to make the condition of the slave a perpetual sorrow. It would be well if some men, and women too, could be debarred by law from having authority over a human being. One looks with pity even upon the animal that belongs to them. Imperative, fierce, threatening in their tones, petulant and cruel in their dispositions, capricious and contradictory in their orders, and full of scolding, the word and blow coming together, they wear out the patience of their servants. No wonder that the slaves of such men and women run away, that white boys in similar circumstances betake themselves to the sea, and girls elope or go to service, as a refuge from such dispositions and tongues. A certain distinguished slave owner seriously entertains the desire, for which his friends banter him, that every one proposing to be a slaveholder shall bring certificates of good temper, and be examined. To one who was a most thorough lover of the system of slavery I put the question, in a favorable moment, "What, in your view, is the greatest objection that can be made to slavery?" "O," said he, "this irresponsible power. You can not prevent its abuse while human nature is what it is. Good and kind men and women can make a slave happier than he could be any where; but certain masters and mistresses of slaves are the worst of tyrants."
There are some men to whom a negro is merely an ox or an ass. They buy, sell, work, treat, talk about, their "niggers" as about cattle hard, sharp, vulgar men..
It will generally be expected that punishment by whipping should be mentioned among the revolting features of slavery. In a well-regulated southern household, as in a well-ordered family of children, or a good school, the rod is out of sight. It is seldom alluded to; threatenings are rare; but the knowledge on the part of each servant, child, and pupil, that there is a punishment in reserve for the last resort, will have a salutary effect. Southern ladies, when they meet insolence or disobedience in their slaves, have not our easy means of relief in dismissing them at once, and repairing to the intelligence offices for others. They must have them punished, or they must continue to bear with them, as they often do, with long and exemplary patience, shrinking as we should from subjecting them to punishment; or they must sell them, as incorrigible, to the slave trader, which is far worse than chastise