"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 England, and Littell's 'Living Age' reprinted the 'Blackwood' article, and the Harpers, the largest publishing house in America, perhaps in the world, republished the book.
"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 America. I was meeting them advertised in dailies, and made up into articles in magazines, and thus the generation of to-day, who had no means of judging Lady Byron but by these fables of her slanderers, were being foully deceived. The friends who knew her personally were a small, select circle in England, whom death is every day reducing. They were few in number compared with the great world, and were silent. I saw these foul slanders crystallizing into history, uncontradicted by friends who knew her personally, who, firm in their own knowledge of her virtues, and limited in view as aristocratic circles generally are, had no idea of the width of the world they were living in, and the exigency of the crisis. When time passed on and no voice was raised, I spoke."
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 England. I met her at a lunch party in the house of one of her friends. When I was introduced to her, I felt in a moment the words of her husband:—
"'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 England, as she and her sister were on their way to Eversley to visit the Rev. C. Kingsley, that they stopped by invitation to lunch with Lady Byron at her summer residence at Ham Common, near Richmond. At that time Lady Byron informed Mrs. Stowe that it was her earnest desire to receive a visit from her on her return, as there was a subject of great importance concerning which she desired her advice. Mrs. Stowe has thus described this interview with Lady Byron:—
"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 England, a lady who for many years had enjoyed Lady Byron's friendship and confidence had, with her consent, stated the case generally to me, giving some of the incidents, so that I was in a manner prepared for what followed."
"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 London for Paris, and had not yet had time fully to consider the subject. On reviewing my note I can recall that then the whole history appeared to me like one of those singular cases where unnatural impulses to vice are the result of a taint of constitutional insanity. This has always seemed to me the only way of accounting for instances of utterly motiveless and abnormal wickedness and cruelty. These, my first impressions, were expressed in the hasty note written at the time:—
LONDON, November 5,1856.
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 Paris more at leisure.
(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 Paris. As to America, all is not lost yet. Farewell. I love you, my dear friend, as never before, with an intense feeling that I cannot easily express. God bless you.
H. B. S.
The next letter is as follows:—
PARIS, December 17, 1856.
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 Boston:—
HARTFORD, June 26,1869.
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 England the first time, I formed a friendship with Lady Byron which led to a somewhat interesting correspondence. When there the second time, after the publication of "Dred" in 1856, Lady Byron wrote to me that she wished to have some private confidential conversation with me, and invited me to come spend a day with her at her country-seat near London. I went, met her alone, and spent an afternoon with her. The object of the visit she then explained to me. She was in such a state of health that she considered she had very little time to live, and was engaged in those duties and reviews which every thoughtful person finds who is coming deliberately, and with their eyes open, to the boundaries of this mortal life.
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., Mass., care of Mrs. I. M. Soule. The proof-sheets will be sent you by the publisher.
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:—
BOSTON, May 19, 1869.
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 England as well as this country, and I would give more for your opinion than that of most folks. How often I have pondered your last letter to me, and sent it to many (friends)! God bless you. Please accept for yourself and your good wife, this copy.
From yours truly,
H. B. STOWE.
Mrs. Stowe also published in 1870, through Sampson Low & Son, of London, a volume for English readers, "The History of the Byron Controversy." These additional volumes, however, do not seem to have satisfied the public as a whole, and perhaps the expediency of the publication of Mrs. Stowe's first article is doubtful, even to her most ardent admirers. The most that can be hoped for, through the mention of the subject in this biography, is the vindication of Mrs. Stowe's purity of motive and nobility of intention in bringing this painful matter into notice.
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:—
BOSTON, September 25, 1869.
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 England. I have listened to a good deal of talk, always taking your side in a quiet way, backed very heartily on one occasion by one of my most intellectual friends, reading all that came in my way, and watching the course of opinion. And first, it was to be expected that the Guiccioli fanciers would resent any attack on Lord Byron, and would highly relish the opportunity of abusing one who, like yourself, had been identified with all those moral enterprises which elevate the standard of humanity at large, and of womanhood in particular. After this scum had worked itself off, there must necessarily follow a controversy, none the less sharp and bitter, but not depending essentially on abuse. The first point the recusants got hold of was the error of the two years which contrived to run the gauntlet of so many pairs of eyes. Some of them were made happy by mouthing and shaking this between their teeth, as a poodle tears round with a glove. This did not last long. No sensible person could believe for a moment you were mistaken in the essential character of a statement every word of which would fall on the ear of a listening friend like a drop of melted lead, and burn its scar deep into the memory. That Lady Byron believed and told you the story will not be questioned by any but fools and malignants. Whether her belief was well founded there may be positive evidence in existence to show affirmatively. The fact that her statement is not peremptorily contradicted by those most likely to be acquainted with the facts of the ease, is the one result so far which is forcing itself into unwilling recognition. I have seen nothing, in the various hypotheses brought forward, which did not to me involve a greater improbability than the presumption of guilt. Take that, for witness, that Byron accused himself, through a spirit of perverse vanity, of crimes he had not committed. How preposterous! He would stain the name of a sister, whom, on the supposition of his innocence, he loved with angelic ardor as well as purity, by associating it with such an infamous accusation. Suppose there are some anomalies hard to explain in Lady Byron's conduct. Could a young and guileless woman, in the hands of such a man, be expected to act in any given way, or would she not be likely to waver, to doubt, to hope, to contradict herself, in the anomalous position in which, without experience, she found herself?
As to the intrinsic evidence contained in the poems, I think it confirms rather than contradicts the hypothesis of guilt. I do not think that Butler's argument, and all the other attempts at invalidation of the story, avail much in the face of the acknowledged fact that it was told to various competent and honest witnesses, and remains without a satisfactory answer from those most interested.
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 London (how many years ago!); she was kind enough to read it to me, because it contained a little history of your life, and a sketch of your domestic circumstances. I remember thinking that it was very kind of you to write that long letter, in reply to inquiries of one who was personally unknown to you; and, looking back with my present experience, I think it was kinder than it then appeared, for at that time you must have been much oppressed with the immediate results of your fame. I remember, too, that you wrote of your husband as one who was richer in Hebrew and Greek than in pounds or shillings; and as an ardent scholar has always been a character of peculiar interest to me, I have rarely had your image in my mind without the accompanying image (more or less erroneous) of such a scholar by your side. I shall welcome the fruit of his Goethe studies, whenever it comes.
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 to see with new clearness, that if a book which has any sort of exquisiteness happens also to be a popular, widely circulated book, the power over the social mind for any good is, after all, due to its reception by a few appreciative natures, and is the slow result of radiation from that narrow circle. I mean that you can affect a few souls, and that each of these in turn may affect a few more, but that no exquisite book tells properly and directly on a multitude, however largely it may be spread by type and paper. Witness the things the multitude will say about it, if one is so unhappy as to be obliged to hear their sayings. I do not write this cynically, but in pure sadness and pity. Both traveling abroad and staying at home among our English sights and sports, one must continually feel how slowly the centuries work toward the moral good of men, and that thought lies very close to what you say as to your wonder or conjecture concerning my religious point of view. I believe that religion, too, has to be modified according to the dominant phases; that a religion more perfect than any yet prevalent must express less care of personal consolation, and the more deeply awing sense of responsibility to man springing from sympathy with that which of all things is most certainly known to us,—the difficulty of the human lot. Letters are necessarily narrow and fragmentary, and when one writes on wide subjects, are likely to create more misunderstanding than illumination. But I have little anxiety in writing to you, dear friend and fellow-laborer; for you have had longer experience than I as a writer, and fuller experience as a woman, since you have borne children and known a mother's history from the beginning. I trust your quick and long-taught mind as an interpreter little liable to mistake me.
When you say, "We live in an orange grove, and are planting many more," and when I think you must have abundant family love to cheer you, it seems to me that you must have a paradise about you. But no list of circumstances will make a paradise. Nevertheless, I must believe that the joyous, tender humor of your books clings about your more immediate life, and makes some of that sunshine for yourself which you have given to us. I see the advertisement of "Oldtown Folks," and shall eagerly expect it. That and every other new link between us will be reverentially valued. With great devotion and regard,
M. L. LEWES.
Mrs. Stowe writes from Mandarin to George Eliot:—
MANDARIN, February 8, 1872.
DEAR FRIEND,—It is two years nearly since I had your last very kind letter, and I have never answered, because two years of constant and severe work have made it impossible to give a drop to anything beyond the needs of the hour. Yet I have always thought of you, loved you, trusted you all the same, and read every little scrap from your writing that came to hand.
One thing brings you back to me. I am now in Florida in my little hut in the orange orchard, with the broad expanse of the blue St. John's in front, and the waving of the live-oaks, with their long, gray mosses, overhead, and the bright gold of oranges looking through dusky leaves around. It is like Sorrento,—so like that I can quite dream of being there. And when I get here I enter another life. The world recedes; I am out of it; it ceases to influence; its bustle and noise die away in the far distance; and here is no winter, an open-air life,—a quaint, rude, wild wilderness sort of life, both rude and rich; but when I am here I write more letters to friends than ever I do elsewhere. The mail comes only twice a week, and then is the event of the day. My old rabbi and I here set up our tent, he with German, and Greek, and Hebrew, devouring all sorts of black-letter books, and I spinning ideal webs out of bits that he lets fall here and there.
I have long thought that I would write you again when I got here, and so I do. I have sent North to have them send me the "Harper's Weekly," in which your new story is appearing, and have promised myself leisurely to devour and absorb every word of it.
While I think of it I want to introduce to you a friend of mine, a most noble man, Mr. Owen, for some years our ambassador at Naples, now living a literary and scholar life in America. His father was Robert Dale Owen, the theorist and communist you may have heard of in England some years since.
Years ago, in Naples, I visited Mr. Owen for the first time, and found him directing his attention to the phenomena of spiritism. He had stumbled upon some singular instances of it accidentally, and he had forthwith instituted a series of researches and experiments on the subject, some of which he showed me. It was the first time I had ever seriously thought of the matter, and he invited my sister and myself to see some of the phenomena as exhibited by a medium friend of theirs who resided in their family. The result at the time was sufficiently curious, but I was interested in his account of the manner in which he proceeded, keeping records of every experiment with its results, in classified orders. As the result of his studies and observations, he has published two books, one "Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World," published in 1860, and latterly, "The Debatable Land Between this World and the Next." I regard Mr. Owen as one of the few men who are capable of entering into an inquiry of this kind without an utter drowning of common sense, and his books are both of them worth a fair reading. To me they present a great deal that is intensely curious and interesting, although I do not admit, of course, all his deductions, and think he often takes too much for granted. Still, with every abatement there remains a residuum of fact, which I think both curious and useful. In a late letter to me he says :—
"There is no writer of the present day whom I more esteem than Mrs. Lewes, nor any one whose opinion of my work I should more highly value."
I believe he intends sending them to you, and I hope you will read them. Lest some of the narratives should strike you, as such narratives did me once, as being a perfect Arabian Nights' Entertainment, I want to say that I have accidentally been in the way of confirming some of the most remarkable by personal observation.
. . . In regard to all this class of subjects, I am of the opinion of Goethe, that "it is just as absurd to deny the facts of spiritualism now as it was in the Middle Ages to ascribe them to the Devil." I think Mr. Owen attributes too much value to his facts. I do not think the things contributed from the ultra-mundane sphere are particularly valuable, apart from the evidence they give of continued existence after death.
I do not think there is yet any evidence to warrant the idea that they are a supplement or continuation of the revelations of Christianity, but I do regard them as an interesting and curious study in psychology, and every careful observer like Mr. Owen ought to be welcomed to bring in his facts. With this I shall send you my observations on Mr. Owen's books, from the "Christian Union." I am perfectly aware of the frivolity and worthlessness of much of the revealings purporting to come from spirits. In my view, the worth or worthlessness of them has nothing to do with the question of fact.
Do invisible spirits speak in any wise,—wise or foolish?—is the question a priori. I do not know of any reason why there should not be as many foolish virgins in the future state as in this. As I am a believer in the Bible and Christianity, I don't need these things as confirmations, and they are not likely to be a religion to me. I regard them simply as I do the phenomena of the Aurora Borealis, or Darwin's studies on natural selection, as curious studies into nature. Besides, I think some day we shall find a law by which all these facts will fall into their places.
I hope now this subject does not bore you: it certainly is one that seems increasingly to insist on getting itself heard. It is going on and on, making converts, who are many more than dare avow themselves, and for my part I wish it were all brought into the daylight of inquiry.
Let me hear from you if ever you feel like it. I know too well the possibilities and impossibilities of a nature like yours to ask more, but it can do you no harm to know that I still think of you and love you as ever.
H. B. STOWE.
THE PRIORY, 21 NORTH BANK, REGENT'S PARK, March 4, 1872.
DEAR, FRIEND,—I can understand very easily that the two last years have been full for you of other and more imperative work than the writing of letters not absolutely demanded either by charity or business. The proof that you still think of me affectionately is very welcome now it has come, and more cheering because it enables me to think of you as enjoying your retreat in your orange orchard,—your western Sorrento—the beloved rabbi still beside you. I am sure it must be a great blessing to you to bathe in that quietude, as it always is to us when we go out of reach of London influences and have the large space of country days to study, walk, and talk in. . . .
When I am more at liberty I will certainly read Mr. Owen's books, if he is good enough to send them to me. I desire on all subjects to keep an open mind, but hitherto the various phenomena, reported or attested in connection with ideas of spirit intercourse and so on, have come before me here in the painful form of the lowest charlatanerie. . . .
But apart from personal contact with people who get money by public exhibitions as mediums, or with semi-idiots such as those who make a court for a Mrs. ——, or other feminine personages of that kind, I would not willingly place any barriers between my mind and any possible channel of truth affecting the human lot. The spirit in which you have written in the paper you kindly sent me is likely to touch others, and arouse them at least to attention in a case where you have been deeply impressed. . . .
Yours with sincere affection,
M. L. LEWES.
(Begun April 4th.)
MANDARIN, FLORIDA, May 11,1872.
MY DEAR FRIEND,—I was very glad to get your dear little note,—sorry to see by it that you are not in your full physical force. Owing to the awkwardness and misunderstanding of publishers, I am not reading "Middlemarch," as I expected to be, here in these orange shades: they don't send it, and I am too far out of the world to get it. I felt, when I read your letters, how glad I should be to have you here in our Florida cottage, in the wholly new, wild, woodland life. Though resembling Italy in climate, it is wholly different in the appearance of nature,—the plants, the birds, the animals, all different. The green tidiness and culture of England here gives way to a wild and rugged savageness of beauty. Every tree bursts forth with flowers; wild vines and creepers execute delirious gambols, and weave and interweave in interminable labyrinths. Yet here, in the great sandy plains back of our house, there is a constant wondering sense of beauty in the wild, wonderful growths of nature. First of all, the pines—high as the stone pines of Italy—with long leaves, eighteen inches long, through which there is a constant dreamy sound, as if of dashing waters. Then the live-oaks and the water-oaks, narrow-leaved evergreens, which grow to enormous size, and whose branches are draped with long festoons of the gray moss. There is a great, wild park of these trees back of us, which, with the dazzling, varnished green of the new spring leaves and the swaying drapery of moss, looks like a sort of enchanted grotto. Underneath grow up hollies and ornamental flowering shrubs, and the yellow jessamine climbs into and over everything with fragrant golden bells and buds, so that sometimes the foliage of a tree is wholly hidden in its embrace.
This wild, wonderful, bright and vivid growth, that is all new, strange, and unknown by name to me, has a charm for me. It is the place to forget the outside world, and live in one's self. And if you were here, we would go together and gather azaleas, and white lilies, and silver bells, and blue iris. These flowers keep me painting in a sort of madness. I have just finished a picture of white lilies that grow in the moist land by the watercourses. I am longing to begin on blue iris. Artist, poet, as you are by nature, you ought to see all these things, and if you would come here I would take you in heart and house, and you should have a little room in our cottage. The history of the cottage is this: I found a hut built close to a great live-oak twenty-five feet in girth, and with overarching boughs eighty feet up in the air, spreading like a firmament, and all swaying with mossy festoons. We began to live here, and gradually we improved the hut by lath, plaster, and paper. Then we threw out a wide veranda all round, for in these regions the veranda is the living-room of the house. Ours had to be built around the trunk of the tree, so that our cottage has a peculiar and original air, and seems as if it were half tree, or a something that had grown out of the tree. We added on parts, and have thrown out gables and chambers, as a tree throws out new branches, till our cottage is like nobody else's, and yet we settle into it with real enjoyment. There are all sorts of queer little rooms in it, and we are accommodating at this present a family of seventeen souls. In front, the beautiful, grand St. John's stretches five miles from shore to shore, and we watch the steamboats plying back and forth to the great world we are out of. On all sides, large orange trees, with their dense shade and ever-vivid green, shut out the sun so that we can sit, and walk, and live in the open air. Our winter here is only cool, bracing out-door weather, without snow. No month without flowers blooming in the open air, and lettuce and peas in the garden. The summer range is about 90, but the sea-breezes keep the air delightfully fresh. Generally we go North, however, for three months of summer. Well, I did not mean to run on about Florida, but the subject runs away with me, and I want you to visit us in spirit if not personally.
My poor rabbi!—he sends you some Arabic, which I fear you cannot read: on diablerie he is up to his ears in knowledge, having read all things in all tongues, from the Talmud down. . . .
Ever lovingly yours,
H. B. STOWE.
BOSTON, September 26, 1872.
MY DEAR FRIEND,—I think when you see my name again so soon, you will think it rains, hails, and snows notes from this quarter. Just now, however, I am in this lovely, little nest in Boston, where dear Mrs. Field, like a dove, "sits brooding on the charmed wave." We are both wishing we had you here with us, and she has not received any answer from you as yet in reply to the invitation you spoke of in your last letter to me. It seems as if you must have written, and the letter somehow gone astray, because I know, of course, you would write. Yesterday we were both out of our senses with mingled pity and indignation at that dreadful stick of a Casaubon,—and think of poor Dorothea dashing like a warm, sunny wave against so cold and repulsive a rock! He is a little too dreadful for anything: there does not seem to be a drop of warm blood in him, and so, as it is his misfortune and not his fault, to be cold-blooded, one must not get angry with him. It is the scene in the garden, after the interview with the doctor, that rests on our mind at this present. There was such a man as he over in Boston, high in literary circles, but I fancy his wife wasn't like Dorothea, and a vastly proper time they had of it, treating each other with mutual reverence, like two Chinese mandarins.
My love, what I miss in this story is just what we would have if you would come to our tumble-down, jolly, improper, but joyous country,— namely, "jollitude." You write and live on so high a plane! It is all self-abnegation. We want to get you over here, and into this house, where, with closed doors, we sometimes make the rafters ring with fun, and say anything and everything, no matter what, and won't be any properer than we's a mind to be. I am wishing every day you could see our America,—travel, as I have been doing, from one bright, thriving, pretty, flowery town to another, and see so much wealth, ease, progress, culture, and all sorts of nice things. This dovecot where I now am is the sweetest little nest imaginable; fronting on a city street, with back windows opening on a sea view, with still, quiet rooms filled with books, pictures, and all sorts of things, such as you and Mr. Lewes would enjoy. Don't be afraid of the ocean, now! I 've crossed it six times, and assure you it is an overrated item. Froude is coming here—why not you? Besides, we have the fountain of eternal youth here, that is, in Florida, where I live, and if you should come you would both of you take a new lease of life, and what glorious poems, and philosophies, and whatnot, we should have! My rabbi writes, in the seventh heaven, an account of your note to him. To think of his setting-off on his own account when I was away!
Come now, since your answer to dear Mrs. Fields is yet to come; let it be a glad yes, and we will clasp you to our heart of hearts.
Your ever loving, H. B. S.
During the summer of 1874, while Mrs. Stowe's brother, the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, was the victim of a most revolting, malicious, and groundless attack on his purity, Mrs. Lewes wrote the following words of sympathy:—
MY DEAR, FRIEND,—The other day I had a letter from Mrs. Fields, written to let me know something of you under that heavy trouble, of which such information as I have had has been quite untrustworthy, leaving me in entire incredulity in regard to it except on this point, that you and yours must be suffering deeply. Naturally I thought most of you in the matter (its public aspects being indeterminate), and many times before our friend's letter came I had said to Mr. Lewes: "What must Mrs. Stowe be feeling!" I remember Mrs. Fields once told me of the wonderful courage and cheerfulness which belonged to you, enabling you to bear up under exceptional trials, and I imagined you helping the sufferers with tenderness and counsel, but yet, nevertheless, I felt that there must be a bruising weight on your heart. Dear, honored friend, you who are so ready to give warm fellowship, is it any comfort to you to be told that those afar off are caring for you in spirit, and will be happier for all good issues that may bring you rest?
I cannot, dare not, write more in my ignorance, lest I should be using unreasonable words. But I trust in your not despising this scrap of paper which tells you, perhaps rather for my relief than yours, that I am always in grateful, sweet remembrance of your goodness to me and your energetic labors for all.
It was two years or more before Mrs. Stowe replied to these words of sympathy.
Orange-blossom time, MANDARIN, March 18, 1876,
My Dear Friend,—I always think of you when the orange trees are in blossom; just now they are fuller than ever, and so many bees are filling the branches that the air is full of a sort of still murmur. And now I am beginning to hear from you every month in Harper's. It is as good as a letter. "Daniel Deronda" has succeeded in awaking in my somewhat worn-out mind an interest. So many stories are tramping over one's mind in every modern magazine nowadays that one is macadamized, so to speak. It takes something unusual to make a sensation. This does excite and interest me, as I wait for each number with eagerness. I wish I could endow you with our long winter weather,—not winter, except such as you find in Sicily. We live here from November to June, and my husband sits outdoors on the veranda and reads all day. We emigrate in solid family: my two dear daughters, husband, self, and servants come together to spend the winter here, and so together to our Northern home in summer. My twin daughters relieve me from all domestic care; they are lively, vivacious, with a real genius for practical life. We have around us a little settlement of neighbors, who like ourselves have a winter home here, and live an easy, undress, picnic kind of life, far from the world and its cares. Mr. Stowe has been busy on eight volumes of Grres on the mysticism of the Middle Ages. [Footnote: Die Christliche Mystik.] This Grres was Professor of Philosophy at Munich, and he reviews the whole ground of the shadow-land between the natural and the supernatural,—ecstacy, trance, prophecy, miracles, spiritualism, the stigmata, etc. He was a devout Roman Catholic, and the so-called facts that he reasons on seem to me quite amazing; and yet the possibilities that lie between inert matter and man's living, all-powerful, immortal soul may make almost anything credible. The soul at times can do anything with matter. I have been busying myself with Sainte-Beuve's seven volumes on the Port Royal development. I like him (Sainte-Beuve). His capacity of seeing, doing justice to all kinds of natures and sentiments, is wonderful. I am sorry he is no longer our side the veil.
There is a redbird (cardinal grosbeak) singing in the orange trees fronting my window, so sweetly and insistently as to almost stop my writing. I hope, dear friend, you are well—better than when you wrote last.
It was very sweet and kind of you to write what you did last. I suppose it is so long ago you may have forgotten, but it was a word of tenderness and sympathy about my brother's trial; it was womanly, tender, and sweet, such as at heart you are. After all, my love of you is greater than my admiration, for I think it more and better to be really a woman worth loving than to have read Greek and German and written books. And in this last book I read, I feel more with you in some little, fine points,—they stare at me as making an amusing exhibition. For, my dear, I feel myself at last as one who has been playing and picnicking on the shores of life, and waked from a dream late in the afternoon to find that everybody almost has gone over to the beyond. And the rest are sorting their things and packing their trunks, and waiting for the boat to come and take them.
It seems now but a little time since my brother Henry and I were two young people together. He was my two years junior, and nearest companion out of seven brothers and three sisters. I taught him drawing and heard his Latin lessons, for you know a girl becomes mature and womanly long before a boy. I saw him through college, and helped him through the difficult love affair that gave him his wife; and then he and my husband had a real German, enthusiastic love for each other, which ended in making me a wife. Ah! in those days we never dreamed that he, or I, or any of us, were to be known in the world. All he seemed then was a boy full of fun, full of love, full of enthusiasm for protecting abused and righting wronged people, which made him in those early days write editorials, and wear arms and swear himself a special policeman to protect the poor negroes in Cincinnati, where we then lived, when there were mobs instigated by the slaveholders of Kentucky.
Then he married, and lived a missionary life in the new West, all with a joyousness, an enthusiasm, a chivalry, which made life bright and vigorous to us both. Then in time he was called to Brooklyn, just as the crisis of the great anti-slavery battle came on, and the Fugitive Slave Law was passed. I was then in Maine, and I well remember one snowy night his riding till midnight to see me, and then our talking, till near morning, what we could do to make headway against the horrid cruelties that were being practiced against the defenseless blacks. My husband was then away lecturing, and my heart was burning itself out in indignation and anguish. Henry told me then that he meant to fight that battle in New York; that he would have a church that would stand by him to resist the tyrannic dictation of Southern slaveholders. I said: "I, too, have begun to do something; I have begun a story, trying to set forth the sufferings and wrongs of the slaves." "That's right, Hattie," he said; "finish it, and I will scatter it thick as the leaves of Vallambrosa," and so came "Uncle Tom," and Plymouth Church became a stronghold where the slave always found refuge and a strong helper. One morning my brother found sitting on his doorstep poor old Paul Edmonson, weeping; his two daughters, of sixteen and eighteen, had passed into the slave warehouse of Bruin & Hill, and were to be sold. My brother took the man by the hand to a public meeting, told his story for him, and in an hour raised the two thousand dollars to redeem his children. Over and over again, afterwards, slaves were redeemed at Plymouth Church, and Henry and Plymouth Church became words of hatred and fear through half the Union. From that time until we talked together about the Fugitive Slave Law, there was not a pause or stop in the battle till we had been through the war and slavery had been wiped out in blood. Through all he has been pouring himself out, wrestling, burning, laboring everywhere, making stump speeches when elections turned on the slave question, and ever maintaining that the cause of Christ was the cause of the slave. And when all was over, it was he and Lloyd Garrison who were sent by government once more to raise our national flag on Fort Sumter. You must see that a man does not so energize without making many enemies. Half of our Union has been defeated, a property of millions annihilated by emancipation, a proud and powerful slave aristocracy reduced to beggary, and there are those who never saw our faces that, to this hour, hate him and me. Then he has been a progressive in theology. He has been a student of Huxley, and Spencer, and Darwin,—enough to alarm the old school,—and yet remained so ardent a supernaturalist as equally to repel the radical destructionists in religion. He and I are Christ-worshippers, adoring Him as the Image of the Invisible God and all that comes from believing this. Then he has been a reformer, an advocate of universal suffrage and woman's rights, yet not radical enough to please that reform party who stand where the Socialists of France do, and are for tearing up all creation generally. Lastly, he has had the misfortune of a popularity which is perfectly phenomenal. I cannot give you any idea of the love, worship, idolatry, with which he has been overwhelmed. He has something magnetic about him that makes everybody crave his society,—that makes men follow and worship him. I remember being at his house one evening in the time of early flowers, and in that one evening came a box of flowers from Maine, another from New Jersey, another from Connecticut,—all from people with whom he had no personal acquaintance, who had read something of his and wanted to send him some token. I said, "One would think you were a prima donna. What does make people go on so about you?"
My brother is hopelessly generous and confiding. His inability to believe evil is something incredible, and so has come all this suffering. You said you hoped I should be at rest when the first investigating committee and Plymouth Church cleared my brother almost by acclamation. Not so. The enemy have so committed themselves that either they or he must die, and there has followed two years of the most dreadful struggle. First, a legal trial of six months, the expenses of which on his side were one hundred and eighteen thousand dollars, and in which he and his brave wife sat side by side in the court-room, and heard all that these plotters, who had been weaving their webs for three years, could bring. The foreman of the jury was offered a bribe of ten thousand dollars to decide against my brother. He sent the letter containing the proposition to the judge. But with all their plotting, three fourths of the jury decided against them, and their case was lost. It was accepted as a triumph by my brother's friends; a large number of the most influential clergy of all denominations so expressed themselves in a public letter, and it was hoped the thing was so far over that it might be lived down and overgrown with better things.
But the enemy, intriguing secretly with all those parties in the community who wish to put down a public and too successful man, have been struggling to bring the thing up again for an ecclesiastical trial. The cry has been raised in various religious papers that Plymouth Church was in complicity with crime,—that they were so captivated with eloquence and genius that they refused to make competent investigation. The six months' legal investigation was insufficient; a new trial was needed. Plymouth Church immediately called a council of ministers and laymen, in number representing thirty-seven thousand Congregational Christians, to whom Plymouth Church surrendered her records,—her conduct,—all the facts of the case, and this great council unanimously supported the church and ratified her decision; recognizing the fact that, in all the investigations hitherto, nothing had been proved against my brother. They at his request, and that of Plymouth Church, appointed a committee of five to whom within sixty days any one should bring any facts that they could prove, or else forever after hold their peace. It is thought now by my brother's friends that this thing must finally reach a close. But you see why I have not written. This has drawn on my life—my heart's blood. He is myself; I know you are the kind of woman to understand me when I say that I felt a blow at him more than at myself. I, who know his purity, honor, delicacy, know that he has been from childhood of an ideal purity,—who reverenced his conscience as his king, whose glory was redressing human wrong, who spake no slander, no, nor listened to it.
Never have I known a nature of such strength, and such almost childlike innocence. He is of a nature so sweet and perfect that, though I have seen him thunderously indignant at moments, I never saw him fretful or irritable,—a man who continuously, in every little act of life, is thinking of others, a man that all the children on the street run after, and that every sorrowful, weak, or distressed person looks to as a natural helper. In all this long history there has been no circumstance of his relation to any woman that has not been worthy of himself,—pure, delicate, and proper; and I know all sides of it, and certainly should not say this if there were even a misgiving. Thank God, there is none, and I can read my New Testament and feel that by all the beatitudes my brother is blessed.
His calmness, serenity, and cheerfulness through all this time has uplifted us all. Where he was, there was no anxiety, no sorrow. My brother's power to console is something peculiar and wonderful. I have seen him at death-beds and funerals, where it would seem as if hope herself must be dumb, bring down the very peace of Heaven and change despair to trust. He has not had less power in his own adversity. You cannot conceive how he is beloved, by those even who never saw him, —old, paralytic, distressed, neglected people, poor seamstresses, black people, who have felt these arrows shot against their benefactor as against themselves, and most touching have been their letters of sympathy. From the first, he has met this in the spirit of Francis de Sales, who met a similar plot,—by silence, prayer, and work, and when urged to defend himself said "God would do it in his time." God was the best judge how much reputation he needed to serve Him with.
In your portrait of Deronda, you speak of him as one of those rare natures in whom a private wrong bred no bitterness. "The sense of injury breeds, not the will to inflict injuries, but a hatred of all injury;" and I must say, through all this conflict my brother has been always in the spirit of Him who touched and healed the ear of Malchus when he himself was attacked. His friends and lawyers have sometimes been aroused and sometimes indignant with his habitual caring for others, and his habit of vindicating and extending even to his enemies every scrap and shred of justice that might belong to them. From first to last of this trial, he has never for a day intermitted his regular work. Preaching to crowded houses, preaching even in his short vacations at watering places, carrying on his missions which have regenerated two once wretched districts of the city, editing a paper, and in short giving himself up to work. He cautioned his church not to become absorbed in him and his trials, to prove their devotion by more faithful church work and a wider charity; and never have the Plymouth missions among the poor been so energetic and effective. He said recently, "The worst that can befall a man is to stop thinking of God and begin to think of himself; if trials make us self-absorbed, they hurt us." Well, dear, pardon me for this outpour. I loved you—I love you—and therefore wanted you to know just what I felt. Now, dear, this is over, don't think you must reply to it or me. I know how much you have to do,—yes, I know all about an aching head and an overtaxed brain. This last work of yours is to be your best, I think, and I hope it will bring you enough to buy an orange grove in Sicily, or somewhere else, and so have lovely weather such as we have.
Your ancient admirer, [Footnote: Professor Stowe.] who usually goes to bed at eight o'clock, was convicted by me of sitting up after eleven over the last installment of "Daniel Deronda," and he is full of it. We think well of Guendoline, and that she isn't much more than young ladies in general so far.
Next year, if I can possibly do it, I will send you some of our oranges. I perfectly long to have you enjoy them. Your very loving
H. B. STOWE.
P. S. I am afraid I shall write you again when I am reading your writings, they are so provokingly suggestive of things one wants to say
H. B. S.
In her reply to this letter Mrs. Lewes says, incidentally: 'Please offer my reverential love to the Professor, and tell him I am ruthlessly proud of having kept him out of his bed. I hope that both you and he will continue to be interested in my spiritual children.'
After Mr. Lewes's death, Mrs. Lewes writes to Mrs. Stowe:—
The Priory, 21 North Bank, April 10, 1879.
My Dear Friend,—I have been long without sending you any sign (unless you have received a message from me through Mrs. Fields), but my heart has been going out to you and your husband continually as among the chief of the many kind beings who have given me their tender fellow- feeling in my last earthly sorrow. . . . When your first letter came, with the beautiful gift of your book, [Footnote: Uncle Tom's Cabin, new edition, with introduction.] I was unable to read any letters, and did not for a long time see what you had sent me. But when I did know, and had read your words of thankfulness at the great good you have seen wrought by your help, I felt glad, for your sake first, and then for the sake of the great nation to which you belong. The hopes of the world are taking refuge westward, under the calamitous conditions, moral and physical, in which we of the elder world are getting involved. . . .
Thank you for telling me that you have the comfort of seeing your son in a path that satisfies your best wishes for him. I like to think of your having family joys. One of the prettiest photographs of a child that I possess is one of your sending to me. . . .
Please offer my reverential, affectionate regards to your husband, and believe me, dear friend,
Yours always gratefully,
M. L. Lewes.
As much as has been said with regard to spiritualism in these pages, the subject has by no means the prominence that it really possessed in the studies and conversations of both Professor and Mrs. Stowe.
Professor Stowe's very remarkable psychological development, and the exceptional experiences of his early life, were sources of conversation of unfailing interest and study to both.
Professor Stowe had made an elaborate and valuable collection of the literature of the subject, and was, as Mrs. Stowe writes, "over head and ears in diablerie."
It is only just to give Mrs. Stowe's views on this perplexing theme more at length, and as the mature reflection of many years has caused them to take form.
In reference to professional mediums, and spirits that peep, rap, and mutter, she writes:—
"Each friend takes away a portion of ourselves. There was some part of our being related to him as to no other, and we had things to say to him which no other would understand or appreciate. A portion of our thoughts has become useless and burdensome, and again and again, with involuntary yearning, we turn to the stone at the door of the sepulchre. We lean against the cold, silent marble, but there is no answer,—no voice, neither any that regardeth.
"There are those who would have us think that in our day this doom is reversed; that there are those who have the power to restore to us the communion of our lost ones. How many a heart, wrung and tortured with the anguish of this fearful silence, has throbbed with strange, vague hopes at the suggestion! When we hear sometimes of persons of the strongest and clearest minds becoming credulous votaries of certain spiritualist circles, let us not wonder: if we inquire, we shall almost always find that the belief has followed some stroke of death; it is only an indication of the desperation of that heart-hunger which in part it appeases.
"Ah, were it true! Were it indeed so that the wall between the spiritual and material is growing thin, and a new dispensation germinating in which communion with the departed blest shall be among the privileges and possibilities of this our mortal state! Ah, were it so that when we go forth weeping in the gray dawn, bearing spices and odors which we long to pour forth for the beloved dead, we should indeed find the stone rolled away and an angel sitting on it!
"But for us the stone must be rolled away by an unquestionable angel, whose countenance is as the lightning, who executes no doubtful juggle by pale moonlight or starlight, but rolls back the stone in fair, open morning, and sits on it. Then we could bless God for his mighty gift, and with love, and awe, and reverence take up that blessed fellowship with another life, and weave it reverently and trustingly into the web of our daily course.
"But no such angel have we seen,—no such sublime, unquestionable, glorious manifestation. And when we look at what is offered to us, ah! who that had a friend in heaven could wish them to return in such wise as this? The very instinct of a sacred sorrow seems to forbid that our beautiful, our glorified ones should stoop lower than even to the medium of their cast-off bodies, to juggle, and rap, and squeak, and perform mountebank tricks with tables and chairs; to recite over in weary sameness harmless truisms, which we were wise enough to say for ourselves; to trifle, and banter, and jest, or to lead us through endless moonshiny mazes. Sadly and soberly we say that, if this be communion with the dead, we had rather be without it. We want something a little in advance of our present life, and not below it. We have read with some attention weary pages of spiritual communication purporting to come from Bacon, Swedenborg, and others, and long accounts from divers spirits of things seen in the spirit land, and we can conceive of no more appalling prospect than to have them true.
"If the future life is so weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable as we might infer from these readings, one would have reason to deplore an immortality from which no suicide could give an outlet. To be condemned to such eternal prosing would be worse than annihilation.
"Is there, then, no satisfaction for this craving of the soul? There is One who says: "I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of hell and of death;" and this same being said once before: "He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself unto him." This is a promise direct and personal; not confined to the first apostles, but stated in the most general way as attainable by any one who loves and does the will of Jesus. It seems given to us as some comfort for the unavoidable heart-breaking separations of death that there should be, in that dread unknown, one all-powerful Friend with whom it is possible to commune, and from whose spirit there may come a response to us. Our Elder Brother, the partaker of our nature, is not only in the spirit land, but is all-powerful there. It is he that shutteth and no man openeth, and openeth and no man shutteth. He whom we have seen in the flesh, weeping over the grave of Lazarus, is he who hath the keys of hell and of death. If we cannot commune with our friends, we can at least commune with Him to whom they are present, who is intimately with them as with us. He is the true bond of union between the spirit world and our souls; and one blest hour of prayer, when we draw near to Him and feel the breadth, and length, and depth, and heighth of that love of his that passeth knowledge, is better than all those incoherent, vain, dreamy glimpses with which longing hearts are cheated.
"They who have disbelieved all spiritual truth, who have been Sadduceeic doubters of either angel or spirit, may find in modern spiritualism a great advance. But can one who has ever really had communion with Christ, who has said with John, "Truly our fellowship is with the Father and the Son,"—can such an one be satisfied with what is found in the modern circle?
"For Christians who have strayed into these inclosures, we cannot but recommend the homely but apt quotation of old John Newton:—
"'What think ye of Christ is the test To try both your word and your scheme.'
"In all these so-called revelations, have there come any echoes of the new song which no man save the redeemed from earth could learn; any unfoldings of that love that passeth knowledge,—anything, in short, such as spirits might utter to whom was unveiled that which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath entered the heart of man to conceive? We must confess that all those spirits that yet have spoken appear to be living in quite another sphere from. John or Paul.
"Let us, then, who long for communion with spirits, seek nearness to Him who has promised to speak and commune, leaving forever this word to his church:—
"'I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you.'"
CLOSING SCENES, 1870-1889.
LITERARY LABORS.—COMPLETE LIST OF PUBLISHED BOOKS.—FIRST READING TOUR.—PEEPS BEHIND THE CURTAIN.—SOME NEW ENGLAND CITIES.—A LETTER FROM MAINE.—PLEASANT AND UNPLEASANT READINGS.—SECOND TOUR.—A WESTERN JOURNEY.—VISIT TO OLD SCENES.—CELEBRATION OF SEVENTIETH BIRTHDAY.—CONGRATULATORY POEMS FROM MR. WHITTIER AND DR. HOLMES.— LAST WORDS.
Besides the annual journeys to and from Florida, and her many interests in the South, Mrs. Stowe's time between 1870 and 1880 was largely occupied by literary and kindred labors. In the autumn of 1871 we find her writing to her daughters as follows regarding her work:—
"I have at last finished all my part in the third book of mine that is to come out this year, to wit 'Oldtown Fireside Stories,' and you can have no idea what a perfect luxury of rest it is to be free from all literary engagements, of all kinds, sorts, or descriptions. I feel like a poor woman I once read about,—
"'Who always was tired, 'Cause she lived in a house Where help wasn't hired,'
and of whom it is related that in her dying moments,
'She folded her hands With her latest endeavor, Saying nothing, dear nothing, Sweet nothing forever.'
"I am in about her state of mind. I luxuriate in laziness. I do not want to do anything or go anywhere. I only want to sink down into lazy enjoyment of living."
She was certainly well entitled to a rest, for never had there been a more laborious literary life. In addition to the twenty-three books already written, she had prepared for various magazines and journals an incredible number of short stories, letters of travel, essays, and other articles. Yet with all she had accomplished, and tired as she was, she still had seven books to write, besides many more short stories, before her work should be done. As her literary life did not really begin until 1852, the bulk of her work has been accomplished within twenty-six years, as will be seen from the following list of her books, arranged in the chronological order of their publication:—
1833. An Elementary Geography. 1843. The Mayflower. 1852. Uncle Tom's Cabin. 1853. Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin. 1854. Sunny Memories. 1856. Dred. 1858. Our Charley. 1859. Minister's Wooing. 1862. Pearl of Orr's Island. 1863. Agnes of Sorrento. 1864. House and Home Papers. 1865. Little Foxes. 1866. Nina Gordon (Formerly "Dred"). 1867. Religious Poems. 1867. Queer Little People. 1868. The Chimney Corner. 1868. Men of Our Times. 1869. Oldtown Folks. 1870. Lady Byron Vindicated. 1871. The History of the Byron Controversy (London). 1870. Little Pussy Willow. 1871. Pink and White Tyranny. 1871. Old Town Fireside Stories. 1872. My Wife and I. 1873. Palmetto Leaves. 1873. Library of Famous Fiction. 1875. We and Our Neighbors. 1876. Betty's Bright Idea. 1877. Footsteps of the Master. 1878. Bible Heroines. 1878. Poganuc People. 1881. Dog's Mission.
In 1872 a new and remunerative field of labor was opened to Mrs. Stowe, and though it entailed a vast amount of weariness and hard work, she entered it with her customary energy and enthusiasm. It presented itself in the shape of an offer from the American Literary (Lecture) Bureau of Boston to deliver a course of forty readings from her own works in the principal cities of the New England States. The offer was a liberal one, and Mrs. Stowe accepted it on condition that the reading tour should be ended in time to allow her to go to her Florida home in December. This being acceded to, she set forth and gave her first reading in Bridgeport, Conn., on the evening of September 19, 1872.
The following extracts from letters written to her husband while on this reading tour throw some interesting gleams of light on the scenes behind the curtain of the lecturer's platform. From Boston, October 3d, she writes: "Have had a most successful but fatiguing week. Read in Cambridgeport to-night, and Newburyport to-morrow night." Two weeks later, upon receipt of a letter from her husband, in which he fears he has not long to live, she writes from Westfield, Mass:—
"I have never had a greater trial than being forced to stay away from you now. I would not, but that my engagements have involved others in heavy expense, and should I fail to fulfill them, it would be doing a wrong.
"God has given me strength as I needed it, and I never read more to my own satisfaction than last night.
"Now, my dear husband, please do want, and try, to remain with us yet a while longer, and let us have a little quiet evening together before either of us crosses the river. My heart cries out for a home with you; our home together in Florida. Oh, may we see it again! Your ever loving wife."
From Fitchburg, Mass., under date of October 29th, she writes:—
"In the cars, near Palmer, who should I discover but Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Fields, returning from a Western trip, as gay as a troubadour. I took an empty seat next to them, and we had a jolly ride to Boston. I drove to Mr. Williams's house, where I met the Chelsea agent, who informed me that there was no hotel in Chelsea, but that they were expecting to send over for me. So I turned at once toward 148 Charles Street, where I tumbled in on the Fields before they had got their things off. We had a good laugh, and I received a hearty welcome. I was quickly installed in my room, where, after a nice dinner, I curled up for my afternoon nap. At half-past seven the carriage came for me, and I was informed that I should not have a hard reading, as they had engaged singers to take part. So, when I got into the carriage, who should I find, beshawled, and beflowered, and betoggled in blue satin and white lace, but our old friend —— of Andover concert memory, now become Madame Thingumbob, of European celebrity. She had studied in Italy, come out in Milan, sung there in opera for a whole winter, and also in Paris and London.
"Well, she sings very sweetly and looks very nice and pretty. Then we had a little rosebud of a Chelsea girl who sang, and a pianist. I read 'Minister's Housekeeper' and Topsy, and the audience was very jolly and appreciative. Then we all jogged home."
The next letter finds Mrs. Stowe in Maine, and writing in the cars between Bangor and Portland. She says:—
MY DEAR HUSBAND,—Well, Portland and Bangor are over, and the latter, which I had dreaded as lonesome and far off, turned out the pleasantest of any place I have visited yet. I stayed at the Fays; he was one of the Andover students, you remember; and found a warm, cosy, social home. In the evening I met an appreciative audience, and had a delightful reading. I read Captain Kittridge, apparently to the great satisfaction of the people, who laughed heartily at his sea stories, and the "Minister's Housekeeper" with the usual success, also Eva and Topsy.
One woman, totally deaf, came to me afterwards and said: "Bless you. I come jist to see you. I'd rather see you than the Queen." Another introduced her little girl named Harriet Beecher Stowe, and another, older, named Eva. She said they had traveled fifty miles to hear me read. An incident like that appeals to one's heart, does it not?
The people of Bangor were greatly embarrassed by the horse disease; but the mayor and his wife walked over from their house, a long distance off, to bring me flowers, and at the reading he introduced me. I had an excellent audience notwithstanding that it rained tremendously, and everybody had to walk because there were no horses. The professors called on me, also Newman Smith, now a settled minister here.
Everybody is so anxious about you, and Mr. Fay made me promise that you and I should come and spend a week with them, next summer. Mr. Howard, in Portland, called upon me to inquire for you, and everybody was so delighted to hear that you were getting better.
It stormed all the time I was in Portland and Bangor, so I saw nothing of them. Now I am in a palace car riding alongside the Kennebec, and recalling the incidents of my trip. I certainly had very satisfactory houses; and these pleasant little visits, and meetings with old acquaintance, would be well worth having, even though I had made nothing in a pecuniary sense. On the whole it is as easy a way of making money as I have ever tried, though no way of making money is perfectly easy,—there must be some disagreeables. The lonesomeness of being at a hotel in dull weather is one, and in Portland it seems there is nobody now to invite us to their homes. Our old friends there are among the past. They have gone on over the river. I send you a bit of poetry that pleases me. The love of the old for each other has its poetry. It is something sacred and full of riches. I long to be with you, and to have some more of our good long talks.
The scenery along this river is very fine. The oaks still keep their leaves, though the other trees are bare; but oaks and pines make a pleasant contrast. We shall stop twenty minutes at Brunswick, so I shall get a glimpse of the old place.
Now we are passing through Hallowell, and the Kennebec changes sides. What a beautiful river! It is now full of logs and rafts. Well, I must bring this to a close. Good-by, dear, with unchanging love. Ever your wife.
From South Framingham, Mass., she writes on November 7th:—
Well, my dear, here I am in E.'s pretty little house. He has a pretty wife, a pretty sister, a pretty baby, two nice little boys, and a lovely white cat. The last is a perfect beauty! a Persian, from a stock brought over by Dr. Parker, as white as snow, with the softest fur, a perfect bunch of loving-kindness, all purr and felicity. I had a good audience last evening, and enjoyed it. My audiences, considering the horse disease and the rains, are amazing. And how they do laugh! We get into regular gales.
E. has the real country minister turn-out: horse and buggy, and such a nice horse too. The baby is a beauty, and giggles, and goos, and shouts inquiries with the rising inflection, in the most inspiring manner.
November 13. Wakefield. I read in Haverhill last night. It was as usual stormy. I had a good audience, but not springy and inspiriting like that at Waltham. Some audiences seem to put spring into one, and some to take it out. This one seemed good but heavy. I had to lift them, while in Framingham and Waltham they lifted me.
The Lord bless and keep you. It grieves me to think you are dull and I not with you. By and by we will be together and stay together. Good-by dear. Your ever loving wife,
H. B. S. November 24. "I had a very pleasant reading in Peabody. While there visited the library and saw the picture of the Queen that she had painted expressly for George Peabody. It was about six inches square, enameled on gold, and set in a massive frame of solid gold and velvet. The effect is like painting on ivory. At night the picture rolls back into a safe, and great doors, closed with a combination lock, defend it. It reminded me of some of the foreign wonders we have seen.
"Well, my course is almost done, and if I get through without any sickness, cold, or accident, how wonderful it will seem. I have never felt the near, kind presence of our Heavenly Father so much as in this. 'He giveth strength to the faint, and to them of no might He increaseth strength.' I have found this true all my life."
From Newport she writes on November 26th:—
"It was a hard, tiring, disagreeable piece of business to read in New London. Had to wait three mortal hours in Palmer. Then a slow, weary train, that did not reach New London until after dark. There was then no time to rest, and I was so tired that it did seem as though I could not dress. I really trembled with fatigue. The hall was long and dimly lighted, and the people were not seated compactly, but around in patches. The light was dim, except for a great flaring gas jet arranged right under my eyes on the reading desk, and I did not see a creature whom I knew. I was only too glad when it was over and I was back again at my hotel. There I found that I must be up at five o'clock to catch the Newport train.
"I started for this place in the dusk of a dreary, foggy morning. Traveled first on a ferry, then in cars, and then in a little cold steamboat. Found no one to meet me, in spite of all my writing, and so took a carriage and came to the hotel. The landlord was very polite to me, said he knew me by my trunk, had been to our place in Mandarin, etc. All I wanted was a warm room, a good bed, and unlimited time to sleep. Now I have had a three hours' nap, and here I am, sitting by myself in the great, lonely hotel parlor.
"Well, dear old man, I think lots of you, and only want to end all this in a quiet home where we can sing 'John Anderson, my Jo' together. I check off place after place as the captive the days of his imprisonment. Only two more after to-night. Ever your loving wife."
Mrs. Stowe made one more reading tour the following year, and this time it was in the West. On October 28, 1873, she writes from Zanesville, Ohio, to her son at Harvard:—
You have been very good to write as often as you have, and your letters, meeting me at different points, have been most cheering. I have been tired, almost to the last degree. Read two successive evenings in Chicago, and traveled the following day for thirteen hours, a distance of about three hundred miles, to Cincinnati. We were compelled to go in the most uncomfortable cars I ever saw, crowded to overflowing, a fiend of a stove at each end burning up all the air, and without a chance to even lay my head down. This is the grand route between Chicago and Cincinnati, and we were on it from eight in the morning until nearly ten at night.
Arrived at Cincinnati we found that George Beecher had not received our telegram, was not expecting us, had no rooms engaged for us, and that we could not get rooms at his boarding-place. After finding all this out we had to go to the hotel, where, about eleven o'clock, I crept into bed with every nerve aching from fatigue. The next day was dark and rainy, and I lay in bed most of it; but when I got up to go and read I felt only half rested, and was still so tired that it seemed as though I could not get through.
Those who planned my engagements failed to take into account the fearful distances and wretched trains out here. On none of these great Western routes is there a drawing-room car. Mr. Saunders tried in every way to get them to put one on for us, but in vain. They are all reserved for the night trains; so that there is no choice except to travel by night in sleeping cars, or take such trains as I have described in the daytime.
I had a most sympathetic audience in Cincinnati; they all seemed delighted and begged me to come again. The next day George took us for a drive out to Walnut Hills, where we saw the seminary buildings, the house where your sisters were born, and the house in which we afterwards lived. In the afternoon we had to leave and hurry away to a reading in Dayton. The next evening another in Columbus, where we spent Sunday with an old friend.
By this time I am somewhat rested from the strain of that awful journey; but I shall never again undertake such another. It was one of those things that have to be done once, to learn not to do it again. My only reading between Columbus and Pittsburgh is to be here in Zanesville, a town as black as Acheron, and where one might expect to see the river Styx.
Later. I had a nice audience and a pleasant reading here, and to-day we go on to Pittsburgh, where I read to-morrow night.
I met the other day at Dayton a woman who now has grandchildren; but who, when I first came West, was a gay rattling girl. She was one of the first converts of brother George's seemingly obscure ministry in the little new town of Chillicothe. Now she has one son who is a judge of the supreme court, and another in business. Both she and they are not only Christians, but Christians of the primitive sort, whose religion is their all; who triumph and glory in tribulation, knowing that it worketh patience. She told me, with a bright sweet calm, of her husband killed in battle the first year of the war, of her only daughter and two grandchildren dying in the faith, and of her own happy waiting on God's will, with bright hopes of a joyful reunion. Her sons are leading members of the Presbyterian Church, and most active in stirring up others to make their profession a reality, not an empty name. When I thought that all this came from the conversion of one giddy girl, when George seemed to be doing so little, I said, "Who can measure the work of a faithful minister?" It is such living witnesses that maintain Christianity on earth.
Good-by, We shall soon be home now, and preparing for Florida. Always your own loving mother,
H. B. S.
Mrs. Stowe never undertook another reading tour, nor, after this one, did she ever read again for money, though she frequently contributed her talent in this direction to the cause of charity.
The most noteworthy event of her later years was the celebration of the seventieth anniversary of her birthday. That it might be fittingly observed, her publishers, Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co. of Boston, arranged a reception for her in form of a garden party, to which they invited the literati of America. It was held on June 14, 1882, at "The Old Elms," the home of Ex-Governor Claflin of Massachusetts, in Newtonville, one of Boston's most beautiful suburbs. Here the assembly gathered to do honor to Mrs. Stowe, that lovely June afternoon, comprised two hundred of the most distinguished and best known among the literary men and women of the day.
From three until five o'clock was spent socially. As the guests arrived they were presented to Mrs. Stowe by Mr. H. 0. Houghton, and then they gathered in groups in the parlors, on the verandas, on the lawn, and in the refreshment room. At five o'clock they assembled in a large tent on the lawn, when Mr. Houghton, as host, addressed to his guest and her friends a few words of congratulation and welcome. He closed his remarks by saying:—
"And now, honored madam, as "'When to them who sail Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past Mozambic, off at sea northeast winds blow Sabean odors from the spicy shore Of Arabie the blest,'
so the benedictions of the lowly and the blessings of all conditions of men are brought to you to-day on the wings of the wind, from every quarter of the globe; but there will be no fresher laurels to crown this day of your rejoicing than are brought by those now before you, who have been your co-workers in the strife; who have wrestled and suffered, fought and conquered, with you; who rank you with the Miriams, the Deborahs, and the Judiths of old; and who now shout back the refrain, when you utter the inspired song:—
"'Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously.' * * * * * The Almighty Lord hath disappointed them by the hand of a woman.'"
In reply to this Mrs. Stowe's brother, Henry Ward Beecher, said: "Of course you all sympathize with me to-day, but, standing in this place, I do not see your faces more clearly than I see those of my father and my mother. Her I only knew as a mere babe-child. He was my teacher and my companion. A more guileless soul than he, a more honest one, more free from envy, from jealousy, and from selfishness, I never knew. Though he thought he was great by his theology, everybody else knew he was great by his religion. My mother is to me what the Virgin Mary is to a devout Catholic. She was a woman of great nature, profound as a philosophical thinker, great in argument, with a kind of intellectual imagination, diffident, not talkative,—in which respect I take after her,—the woman who gave birth to Mrs. Stowe, whose graces and excellences she probably more than any of her children—we number but thirteen—has possessed. I suppose that in bodily resemblance, perhaps, she is not like my mother, but in mind I presume she is most like her. I thank you for my father's sake and for my mother's sake for the courtesy, the friendliness, and the kindness which you give to Mrs. Stowe."
The following poem from John Greenleaf Whittier was then read:—
"Thrice welcome from the Land of Flowers And golden-fruited orange bowers To this sweet, green-turfed June of ours! To her who, in our evil time, Dragged into light the nation's crime With strength beyond the strength of men, And, mightier than their sword, her pen; To her who world-wide entrance gave To the log cabin of the slave, Made all his wrongs and sorrows known, And all earth's languages his own,— North, South, and East and West, made all The common air electrical, Until the o'ercharged bolts of heaven Blazed down, and every chain was riven!
"Welcome from each and all to her Whose Wooing of the Minister Revealed the warm heart of the man Beneath the creed-bound Puritan, And taught the kinship of the love Of man below and God above;
To her whose vigorous pencil-strokes Sketched into life her Oldtown Folks, Whose fireside stories, grave or gay, In quaint Sam Lawson's vagrant way, With Old New England's flavor rife, Waifs from her rude idyllic life, Are racy as the legends old By Chaucer or Boccaccio told; To her who keeps, through change of place And time, her native strength and grace, Alike where warm Sorrento smiles, Or where, by birchen-shaded isles Whose summer winds have shivered o'er The icy drift of Labrador, She lifts to light the priceless Pearl Of Harpswell's angel-beckoned girl. To her at threescore years and ten Be tributes of the tongue and pen, Be honor, praise, and heart thanks given, The loves of earth, the hopes of heaven!
"Ah, dearer than the praise that stirs The air to-day, our love is hers! She needs no guaranty of fame Whose own is linked with Freedom's name. Long ages after ours shall keep Her memory living while we sleep; The waves that wash our gray coast lines, The winds that rock the Southern pines Shall sing of her; the unending years Shall tell her tale in unborn ears. And when, with sins and follies past, Are numbered color-hate and caste, White, black, and red shall own as one. The noblest work by woman done."
It was followed by a few words from Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, who also read the subjoined as his contribution to the chorus of congratulation:—
"If every tongue that speaks her praise For whom I shape my tinkling phrase Were summoned to the table, The vocal chorus that would meet Of mingling accents harsh or sweet, From every land and tribe, would beat The polyglots of Babel."
"Briton and Frenchman, Swede and Dane, Turk, Spaniard, Tartar of Ukraine, Hidalgo, Cossack, Cadi, High Dutchman and Low Dutchman, too, The Russian serf, the Polish Jew, Arab, Armenian, and Mantchoo Would shout, 'We know the lady.'"
"Know her! Who knows not Uncle Tom And her he learned his gospel from, Has never heard of Moses; Full well the brave black hand we know That gave to freedom's grasp the hoe That killed the weed that used to grow Among the Southern roses."
"When Archimedes, long ago, Spoke out so grandly, 'Dos pou sto,— Give me a place to stand on, I'll move your planet for you, now,'— He little dreamed or fancied how The sto at last should find its pou For woman's faith to land on."
"Her lever was the wand of art, Her fulcrum was the human heart, Whence all unfailing aid is; She moved the earth! Its thunders pealed. Its mountains shook, its temples reeled, The blood-red fountains were unsealed, And Moloch sunk to Hades."
"All through the conflict, up and down Marched Uncle Tom and Old John Brown, One ghost, one form ideal; And which was false and which was true, And which was mightier of the two, The wisest sibyl never knew, For both alike were real."
"Sister, the holy maid does well Who counts her beads in convent cell, Where pale devotion lingers; But she who serves the sufferer's needs, Whose prayers are spelt in loving deeds, May trust the Lord will count her beads As well as human fingers.
"When Truth herself was Slavery's slave Thy hand the prisoned suppliant gave The rainbow wings of fiction. And Truth who soared descends to-day Bearing an angel's wreath away, Its lilies at thy feet to lay With heaven's own benediction."
Poems written for the occasion by Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney, Miss Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Mr. J. T. Trowbridge, Mrs. Allen (Mrs. Stowe's daughter), Mrs. Annie Fields, and Miss Charlotte F. Bates, were also read, and speeches were made by Judge Albion W. Tourgee and others prominent in the literary world.
Letters from many noted people, who were prevented from being present by distance or by other engagements, had been received. Only four of them were read, but they were all placed in Mrs. Stowe's hands. The exercises were closed by a few words from Mrs. Stowe herself. As she came to the front of the platform the whole company rose, and remained standing until she had finished. In her quiet, modest, way, and yet so clearly as to be plainly heard by all, she said:—
"I wish to say that I thank all my friends from my heart,—that is all. And one thing more,—and that is, if any of you have doubt, or sorrow, or pain, if you doubt about this world, just remember what God has done; just remember that this great sorrow of slavery has gone, gone by forever. I see it every day at the South. I walk about there and see the lowly cabins. I see these people growing richer and richer. I see men very happy in their lowly lot; but, to be sure, you must have patience with them. They are not perfect, but have their faults, and they are serious faults in the view of white people. But they are very happy, that is evident, and they do know how to enjoy themselves,—a great deal more than you do. An old negro friend in our neighborhood has got a new, nice two-story house, and an orange grove, and a sugar-mill. He has got a lot of money, besides. Mr. Stowe met him one day, and he said, 'I have got twenty head of cattle, four head of "hoss," forty head of hen, and I have got ten children, all mine, every one mine.' Well, now, that is a thing that a black man could not say once, and this man was sixty years old before he could say it. With all the faults of the colored people, take a man and put him down with nothing but his hands, and how many could say as much as that? I think they have done well.
"A little while ago they had at his house an evening festival for their church, and raised fifty dollars. We white folks took our carriages, and when we reached the house we found it fixed nicely. Every one of his daughters knew how to cook. They had a good place for the festival. Their suppers were spread on little white tables with nice clean cloths on them. People paid fifty cents for supper. They got between fifty and sixty dollars, and had one of the best frolics you could imagine. They had also for supper ice-cream, which they made themselves.
"That is the sort of thing I see going on around me. Let us never doubt. Everything that ought to happen is going to happen."