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Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe
Chapter VIII: First Trip to Europe, 1853.

by Harriet Beecher Stowe

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 in Alexandria awaiting the making up of a gang for the South, their heartbroken father determined to visit the North and try to beg from a freedom-loving people the money with which to purchase his daughters' liberty. The sum asked by the trader was $2,250, but its magnitude did not appall the brave old man, and he set forth upon his quest full of faith that in some way he would secure it.

Reaching New York, he went to the anti-slavery bureau and related his pitiful story. The sum demanded was such a large one and seemed so exorbitant that even those who took the greatest interest in the case were disheartened over the prospect of raising it. The old man was finally advised to go to Henry Ward Beecher and ask his aid. He made his way to the door of the great Brooklyn preacher's house, but, overcome by many disappointments and fearing to meet with another rebuff, hesitated to ring the bell, and sat down on the steps with tears streaming from his eyes.

There Mr. Beecher found him, learned his story, and promised to do what he could. There was a great meeting in Plymouth Church that evening, and, taking the old colored man with him to it, Mrs. Stowe's brother made such an eloquent and touching appeal on behalf of the slave girls as to rouse his audience to profound indignation and pity. The entire sum of $2,250 was raised then and there, and the old man, hardly able to realize his great joy, was sent back to his despairing children with their freedom money in his hand.

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 New York myself to see if I can't get that money."

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 New York she made her way to Mr. Beecher's house, where she was so fortunate as to find Mrs. Stowe. Now her troubles were at an end, for this champion of the oppressed at once made the slave woman's cause her own and promised that her children should be redeemed. She at once set herself to the task of raising the purchase-money, not only for Milly's children, but for giving freedom to the old slave woman herself. On May 29, she writes to her husband in Brunswick:--

"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 New Haven to secure a similar meeting of ladies there. I mean to have one in Boston, and another in Portland. It will do good to the givers as well as to the receivers.

"But all this time I have been so longing to get your letter from New Haven, for I heard it was there. It is not fame nor praise that contents me. I seem never to have needed love so much as now. I long to hear you say how much you love me. Dear one, if this effort impedes my journey home, and wastes some of my strength, you will not murmur. When I see this Christlike soul standing so patiently bleeding, yet forgiving, I feel a sacred call to be the helper of the helpless, and it is better that my own family do without me for a while longer than that this mother lose all. I must redeem her.

"New Haven, June 2. My old woman's case progresses gloriously. I am to see the ladies of this place tomorrow. Four hundred dollars were contributed by individuals in Brooklyn, and the ladies who took subscription papers at the meeting will undoubtedly raise two hundred dollars more."

Before leaving New York, Mrs. Stowe gave Milly Edmondson her check for the entire sum necessary to purchase her own freedom and that of her children, and sent her home rejoicing. That this sum was made up to her by the generous contributions of those to whom she appealed is shown by a note written to her husband and dated July, 1852, in which she says:--

"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 Washington. It is with pleasure also that I and my husband are placing our humble names on the list you sent.

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,

JENNY GOLDSCHMIDT.

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 Andover, Mass.

In regard to leaving Brunswick and her many friends there, Mrs. Stowe wrote: "For my part, if I must leave Brunswick, I would rather leave at once. I can tear away with a sudden pull more easily than to linger there knowing that I am to leave at last. I shall never find people whom I shall like better than those of Brunswick."

As Professor Stowe's engagements necessitated his spending much of the summer in Brunswick, and also making a journey to Cincinnati, it devolved upon his wife to remain in Andover, and superintend the preparation of the house they were to occupy. This was known as the old stone workshop, on the west side of the Common, and it had a year or two before been fitted up by Charles Munroe and Jonathan Edwards [Footnote: Students in the Seminary.] as the Seminary gymnasium. Beneath Mrs. Stowe's watchful care and by the judicious expenditure of money, it was transformed by the first of November into the charming abode which under the name of "The Cabin" became noted as one of the pleasantest literary centres of the country. Here for many years were received, and entertained in a modest way, many of the most distinguished people of this and other lands, and here were planned innumerable philanthropic undertakings in which Mrs. Stowe and her scholarly husband were the prime movers.

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 Brunswick except the sea,--a great exception. Yesterday I was out all the forenoon sketching elms. There is no end to the beauty of these trees. I shall fill my book with them before I get through. We had a levee at Professor Park's last week,--quite a brilliant affair. Today there is to be a fishing party to go to Salem beach and have a chowder.

"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.

"I seem to have so much to fill my time, and yet there is my Maine story waiting. However, I am composing it every day, only I greatly need living studies for the filling in of my sketches. There is 'old Jonas,' my 'fish father,' a sturdy, independent fisherman farmer, who in his youth sailed all over the world and made up his mind about everything. In his old age he attends prayer-meetings and reads the 'Missionary Herald.' He also has plenty of money in an old brown sea- chest. He is a great heart with an inflexible will and iron muscles. I must go to Orr's Island and see him again. I am now writing an article for the 'Era' on Maine and its scenery, which I think is even better than the 'Independent' letter. In it I took up Longfellow. Next I shall write one on Hawthorne and his surroundings.

"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 Brunswick effected, and the reunited family was comfortably settled in its Andover home. The plans for the winter's literary work were, however, altered by force of circumstances. Instead of proceeding quietly and happily with her charming Maine story, Mrs. Stowe found it necessary to take notice in some manner of the cruel and incessant attacks made upon her as the author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and to fortify herself against them by a published statement of incontrovertible facts. It was claimed on all sides that she had in her famous book made such ignorant or malicious misrepresentations that it was nothing short of a tissue of falsehoods, and to refute this she was compelled to write a "Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin," in which should appear the sources from which she had obtained her knowledge. Late in the winter Mrs. Stowe wrote:--

"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 Europe.

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 London publisher, we have the following interesting statement regarding it:--

"The first edition printed in London was in April, 1852, by Henry Vizetelly, in a neat volume at ten and sixpence, of which he issued 7,000 copies. He received the first copy imported, through a friend who had bought it in Boston the day the steamer sailed, for his own reading. He gave it to Mr. V., who took it to the late Mr. David Bogue, well known for his general shrewdness and enterprise. He had the book to read and consider over night, and in the morning returned it, declining to take it at the very moderate price of five pounds.

"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 & Co. The 7,000 copies sold, other editions followed, and Mr. Vizetelly disposed of his interest in the book to the printer and agent, who joined with Mr. Beeton and at once began to issue monster editions. The demand called for fresh supplies, and these created an increased demand. The discovery was soon made that any one was at liberty to reprint the book, and the initiative was thus given to a new era in cheap literature, founded on American reprints. A shilling edition followed the one-and-sixpence, and this in turn became the precursor of one 'complete for sixpence.' From April to December, 1852, twelve different editions (not reissues) were published, and within the twelve months of its first appearance eighteen different London publishing houses were engaged in supplying the great demand that had set in, the total number of editions being forty, varying from fine art-illustrated editions at 15s., 10s., and 7s. 6d., to the cheap popular editions of 1s., 9d., and 6d.

"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 Great Britain and the colonies exceeds one and a half millions."

A similar statement made by Clarke & Co. in October, 1852, reveals the following facts. It says: "An early copy was sent from America the latter end of April to Mr. Bogue, the publisher, and was offered by him to Mr. Gilpin, late of Bishopsgate Street. Being declined by Mr. Gilpin, Mr. Bogue offered it to Mr. Henry Vizetelly, and by the latter gentleman it was eventually purchased for us. Before printing it, however, as there was one night allowed for decision, one volume was taken home to be read by Mr. Vizetelly, and the other by Mr. Salisbury, the printer, of Bouverie Street. The report of the latter gentleman the following morning, to quote his own words, was: 'I sat up till four in the morning reading the book, and the interest I felt was expressed one moment by laughter, another by tears. Thinking it might be weakness and not the power of the author that affected me, I resolved to try the effect upon my wife (a rather strong-minded woman). I accordingly woke her and read a few chapters to her. Finding that the interest in the story kept her awake, and that she, too, laughed and cried, I settled in my mind that it was a book that ought to, and might with safety, be printed.'

"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 United States in August, 1852, without the consent or knowledge of the author, who had neglected to reserve her rights for this purpose. In September of the same year we find it announced as the attraction at two London theatres, namely, the Royal Victoria and the Great National Standard. In 1853 Professor Stowe writes: "The drama of 'Uncle Tom' has been going on in the National Theatre of New York all summer with most unparalleled success. Everybody goes night after night, and nothing can stop it. The enthusiasm beats that of the run in the Boston Museum out and out. The 'Tribune' is full of it. The 'Observer,' the 'Journal of Commerce,' and all that sort of fellows, are astonished and nonplussed. They do not know what to say or do about it."

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 America,--the outcry of the demon of slavery, which has heard the voice of Jesus of Nazareth, and is rending and convulsing the noble nation from which at last it must depart.

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 Union: the progress of society has now emancipated the North from its yoke. In Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and Maryland, at different times, strong movements have been made for emancipation,--movements enforced by a comparison of the progressive march of the adjoining free States with the poverty and sterility and ignorance produced by a system which in a few years wastes and exhausts all the resources of the soil without the power of renewal.

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 America; for America is fast filling up from Europe, and every European has almost immediately his vote in her councils.

If, therefore, the oppressed of other nations desire to find in America an asylum of permanent freedom, let them come prepared, heart and hand, and vote against the institution of slavery; for they who enslave man cannot themselves remain free.

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.

In Germany it received the following flattering notice from one of the leading literary journals: "The abolitionists in the United States should vote the author of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' a civic crown, for a more powerful ally than Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe and her romance they could not have. We confess that in the whole modern romance literature of Germany, England, and France, we know of no novel to be called equal to this. In comparison with its glowing eloquence that never fails of its purpose, its wonderful truth to nature, the largeness of its ideas, and the artistic faultlessness of the machinery in this book, George Sand, with her Spiridon and Claudie, appears to us untrue and artificial; Dickens, with his but too faithful pictures from the popular life of London, petty; Bulwer, hectic and self-conscious. It is like a sign of warning from the New World to the Old."

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 Washington to Professor Stowe: "All that I hear and read bears testimony to the good Mrs. Stowe has done. The article of George Sand is a most remarkable tribute, such as was hardly ever offered by such a genius to any living mortal. Should Mrs. Stowe conclude to visit Europe she will have a triumph."

>From Eversley parsonage Charles Kingsley wrote to Mrs. Stowe:--

A thousand thanks for your delightful letter. As for your progress and ovation here in England, I have no fear for you. You will be flattered and worshiped. You deserve it and you must bear it. I am sure that you have seen and suffered too much and too long to be injured by the foolish yet honest and heartfelt lionizing which you must go through.

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,

C. KINGSLEY.

March 28, 1853, Professor Stowe sent the following communication to the Committee of Examination of the Theological Seminary at Andover: "As I shall not be present at the examinations this term, I think it proper to make to you a statement of the reasons of my absence. During the last winter I have not enjoyed my usual health. Mrs. Stowe also became sick and very much exhausted. At this time we had the offer of a voyage to Great Britain and back free of expense."

This offer, coming as it did from the friends of the cause of emancipation in the United Kingdom, was gladly accepted by Mr. and Mrs. Stowe, and they sailed immediately.

The preceding month Mrs. Stowe had received a letter from Mrs. Follen in London, asking for information with regard to herself, her family, and the circumstances of her writing "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

In reply Mrs. Stowe sent the following very characteristic letter, which may be safely given at the risk of some repetition:--

ANDOVER, February 16, 1853.

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 Louisiana. She has often told me how, without any warning, she was suddenly forced into a carriage, and saw her little mistress screaming and stretching her arms from the window towards her as she was driven away. She has told me of scenes on the Louisiana plantation, and she has often been out at night by stealth ministering to poor slaves who had been mangled and lacerated by the lash. Hence she was sold into Kentucky, and her last master was the father of all her children. On this point she ever maintained a delicacy and reserve that always appeared to me remarkable. She always called him her husband; and it was not till after she had lived with me some years that I discovered the real nature of the connection. I shall never forget how sorry I felt for her, nor my feelings at her humble apology, "You know, Mrs. Stowe, slave women cannot help themselves." She had two very pretty quadroon daughters, with her beautiful hair and eyes, interesting children, whom I had instructed in the family school with my children. Time would fail to tell you all that I learned incidentally of the slave system in the history of various slaves who came into my family, and of the underground railroad which, I may say, ran through our house. But the letter is already too long.

You ask with regard to the remuneration which I have received for my work here in America. Having been poor all my life and expecting to be poor the rest of it, the idea of making money by a book which I wrote just because I could not help it, never occurred to me. It was therefore an agreeable surprise to receive ten thousand dollars as the first-fruits of three months' sale. I presume as much more is now due. Mr. Bosworth in England, the firm of Clarke & Co., and Mr. Bentley, have all offered me an interest in the sales of their editions in London. I am very glad of it, both on account of the value of what they offer, and the value of the example they set in this matter, wherein I think that justice has been too little regarded.

I have been invited to visit Scotland, and shall probably spend the summer there and in England.

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 United States and in Canada. I have very much wished that some permanent memorial of good to the colored race might be created out of the proceeds of a work which promises to have so unprecedented a sale. My own share of the profits will be less than that of the publishers', either English or American; but I am willing to give largely for this purpose, and I have no doubt that the publishers, both American and English, will unite with me; for nothing tends more immediately to the emancipation of the slave than the education and elevation of the free.

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 London in May: shall I see you?

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 grave, and Milton's mulberry-tree, and the good land of my fathers,--old, old England! May that day come!

Yours affectionately, H. B. STOWE.
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