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Stowe, Charles Edward / Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe Compiled From Her Letters and Journals by Her Son Charles Edward Stowe
Produced by Steve Schulze, Charles Franks
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
This file was produced from images generously made available
by the CWRU Preservation Department Digital Library







LIFE OF HARRIET BEECHER STOWE

Compiled From

Her Letters and Journals

BY HER SON

CHARLES EDWARD STOWE


[Illustration: Handwritten Preface

It seems but fitting, that I should preface this story of my life,
with a few words of introduction.

The desire to leave behind me some reflection of my life, has been
cherished by me, for many years past; but failing strength and
increasing infirmities have prevented its accomplishment.

At my suggestion and with what assistance I have been able to render
my son Revd. Charles Edward Stow, has compiled from my letters and
journals, this biography. It is this true story of my own words, and
has therefore all the force of an autobiography.

It is perhaps much more accurate as to detail & impression than is
possible with any autobiography, written later in life.

If these pages, shall lead those who read them to a firmer trust in
God and a deeper sense of this fatherly goodness throughout the days
of our Earthly pilgrimage I can stay with Valient for Faith in the
Pilgrim's Progress.

I am going to my Father's & this with great difficulty. I am got
hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the troubles I have been
at, to arrive where I am.

My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage & my
courages & skills to him that can get it.

Hartford Sept. 30 1889

(Signed) Harriet Beecher Stowe]




INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT.

I desire to express my thanks here to Harper & Brothers, of New York,
for permission to use letters already published in the "Autobiography
and Correspondence of Lyman Beecher." I have availed myself freely of
this permission in chapters i. and iii. In chapter xx. I have given
letters already published in the "Life of George Eliot," by Mr. Cross;
but in every instance I have copied from the original MSS. and not
from the published work. In conclusion, I desire to express my
indebtedness to Mr. Kirk Munroe, who has been my co-laborer in the
work of compilation.

CHARLES E. STOWE.

HARTFORD, _September_ 30, 1889.




CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.

CHILDHOOD 1811-1824.

DEATH OF HER MOTHER.--FIRST JOURNEY FROM HOME.--LIFE AT NUT PLAINS.--
SCHOOL DAYS AND HOURS WITH FAVORITE AUTHORS.--THE NEW MOTHER.--
LITCHFIELD ACADEMY AND ITS INFLUENCE.--FIRST LITERARY EFFORTS.--A
REMARKABLE COMPOSITION.--GOES TO HARTFORD.


CHAPTER II.

SCHOOL DAYS IN HARTFORD, 1824-1832.

MISS CATHERINE BEECHER.--PROFESSOR FISHER.--THE WRECK OF THE ALBION
AND DEATH OF PROFESSOR FISHER.--"THE MINISTER'S WOOING."--MISS
CATHERINE BEECHER'S SPIRITUAL HISTORY.--MRS. STOWE'S RECOLLECTIONS OF
HER SCHOOL DAYS IN HARTFORD.--HER CONVERSION.--UNITES WITH THE FIRST
CHURCH IN HARTFORD.--HER DOUBTS AND SUBSEQUENT RELIGIOUS DEVELOPMENT.
--HER FINAL PEACE.


CHAPTER III.

CINCINNATI, 1832-1836.

DR. BEECHER CALLED TO CINCINNATI.--THE WESTWARD JOURNEY.--FIRST LETTER
FROM HOME.--DESCRIPTION OF WALNUT HILLS.--STARTING A NEW SCHOOL.--
INWARD GLIMPSES.--THE SEMI-COLON CLUB.--EARLY IMPRESSIONS OF SLAVERY.
--A JOURNEY TO THE EAST.--THOUGHTS AROUSED BY FIRST VISIT TO NIAGARA.--
MARRIAGE TO PROFESSOR STOWE.


CHAPTER IV.

EARLY MARRIED LIFE, 1836-1840.

PROFESSOR STOWE'S INTEREST IN POPULAR EDUCATION.--HIS DEPARTURE FOR
EUROPE.--SLAVERY RIOTS IN CINCINNATI.--BIRTH OF TWIN DAUGHTERS.--
PROFESSOR STOWE'S RETURN AND VISIT TO COLUMBUS.--DOMESTIC TRIALS.--
AIDING A FUGITIVE SLAVE.--AUTHORSHIP UNDER DIFFICULTIES.--A BEECHER
ROUND ROBIN.


CHAPTER V.

POVERTY AND SICKNESS, 1840-1850.

FAMINE IN CINCINNATI.--SUMMER AT THE EAST.--PLANS FOR LITERARY WORK.--
EXPERIENCE ON A RAILROAD.--DEATH OF HER BROTHER GEORGE.--SICKNESS AND
DESPAIR.--A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF HEALTH.--GOES TO BRATTLEBORO' WATER-
CURE.--TROUBLES AT LANE SEMINARY.--CHOLERA IN CINCINNATI.--DEATH OF
YOUNGEST CHILD.--DETERMINED TO LEAVE THE WEST.


CHAPTER VI.

REMOVAL TO BRUNSWICK, 1850-1852.

MRS. STOWE'S REMARKS ON WRITING AND UNDERSTANDING BIOGRAPHY.--THEIR
APPROPRIATENESS TO HER OWN BIOGRAPHY.--REASONS FOR PROFESSOR STOWE'S
LEAVING CINCINNATI.--MRS. STOWE'S JOURNEY TO BROOKLYN.--HER BROTHER'S
SUCCESS AS A MINISTER.--LETTERS FROM HARTFORD AND BOSTON.--ARRIVES IN
BRUNSWICK.--HISTORY OF THE SLAVERY AGITATION.--PRACTICAL WORKING OF
THE FUGITIVE SLAVE LAW.--MRS. EDWARD BEECHER'S LETTER TO MRS. STOWE
AND ITS EFFECT.--DOMESTIC TRIALS.--BEGINS TO WRITE "UNCLE TOM'S CABIN"
AS A SERIAL FOR THE "NATIONAL ERA."--LETTER TO FREDERICK DOUGLASS.--
"UNCLE TOM'S CABIN" A WORK OF RELIGIOUS EMOTION.


CHAPTER VII.

UNCLE TOM'S CABIN, 1852.

"UNCLE TOM'S CABIN" AS A SERIAL IN THE "NATIONAL ERA."--AN OFFER FOR
ITS PUBLICATION IN BOOK FORM.--WILL IT BE A SUCCESS?--AN UNPRECEDENTED
CIRCULATION.--CONGRATULATORY MESSAGES.--KIND WORDS FROM ABROAD.--MRS.
STOWE TO THE EARL OF CARLISLE.--LETTERS FROM AND TO LORD SHAFTESBURY.
--CORRESPONDENCE WITH ARTHUR HELPS.


CHAPTER VIII.

FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE, 1853.

THE EDMONDSONS.--BUYING SLAVES TO SET THEM FREE.--JENNY LIND.--
PROFESSOR STOWE IS CALLED TO ANDOVER.--FITTING UP THE NEW HOME.--THE
"KEY TO UNCLE TOM'S CABIN."--"UNCLE TOM" ABROAD.--HOW IT WAS PUBLISHED
IN ENGLAND.--PREFACE TO THE EUROPEAN EDITION.--THE BOOK IN FRANCE.--IN
GERMANY.--A GREETING FROM CHARLES KINGSLEY.--PREPARING TO VISIT
SCOTLAND.--LETTER TO MRS. FOLLEN


CHAPTER IX.

SUNNY MEMORIES, 1853.

CROSSING THE ATLANTIC.--ARRIVAL IN ENGLAND.--RECEPTION IN LIVERPOOL.--
WELCOME TO SCOTLAND.--A GLASGOW TEA-PARTY.--EDINBURGH HOSPITALITY.--
ABERDEEN.--DUNDEE AND BIRMINGHAM.--JOSEPH STURGE.--ELIHU BURRITT.--
LONDON.--THE LORD MAYOR'S DINNER.--CHARLES DICKENS AND HIS WIFE


CHAPTER X.

FROM OVER THE SEA, 1853.

THE EARL OF CARLISLE.--ARTHUR HELPS.--THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF ARGYLL.
--MARTIN FARQUHAR TUPPER.--A MEMORABLE MEETING AT STAFFORD HOUSE.--
MACAULAY AND DEAN MILMAN.--WINDSOR CASTLE.--PROFESSOR STOWE RETURNS TO
AMERICA.--MRS. STOWE ON THE CONTINENT.--IMPRESSIONS OF PARIS.--EN
ROUTE TO SWITZERLAND AND GERMANY.--BACK TO ENGLAND.--HOMEWARD BOUND


CHAPTER XI.

HOME AGAIN, 1853-1856.

ANTI-SLAVERY WORK.--STIRRING TIMES IN THE UNITED STATES.--ADDRESS TO
THE LADIES OF GLASGOW.--APPEAL TO THE WOMEN OF AMERICA.--
CORRESPONDENCE WITH WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON.--THE WRITING OF "DRED."--
FAREWELL LETTER FROM GEORGIANA MAY.--SECOND VOYAGE TO ENGLAND.


CHAPTER XII.

DRED, 1856.

SECOND VISIT TO ENGLAND.--A GLIMPSE AT THE QUEEN.--THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
AND INVERARY.--EARLY CORRESPONDENCE WITH LADY BYRON.--DUNROBIN CASTLE
AND ITS INMATES.--A VISIT TO STOKE PARK.--LORD DUFFERIN.--HARLES
KINGSLEY AT HOME.--PARIS REVISITED.--MADAME MOHL'S RECEPTIONS


CHAPTER XIII.

OLD SCENES REVISITED, 1856.

EN ROUTE TO ROME.--TRIALS OF TRAVEL.--A MIDNIGHT ARRIVAL AND AN
INHOSPITABLE RECEPTION.--GLORIES OF THE ETERNAL CITY.--NAPLES AND
VESUVIUS.--VENICE.--HOLY WEEK IN ROME.--RETURN TO ENGLAND.--LETTER
FROM HARRIET MARTINEAU ON "DRED."--A WORD FROM MR. PRESCOTT ON
"DRED."--FAREWELL TO LADY BYRON.


CHAPTER XIV.

THE MINISTER'S WOOING, 1857-1859.

DEATH OF MRS. STOWE'S OLDEST SON.--LETTER TO THE DUCHESS OF
SUTHERLAND.--LETTER TO HER DAUGHTERS IN PARIS.--LETTER TO HER SISTER
CATHERINE.--VISIT TO BRUNSWICK AND ORR'S ISLAND.--WRITES "THE
MINISTER'S WOOING" AND "THE PEARL OF ORR'S ISLAND."--MR. WHITTIER'S
COMMENTS.--MR. LOWELL ON "THE MINISTER'S WOOING."--LETTER TO MRS.
STOWE FROM MR. LOWELL.--JOHN RUSKIN ON "THE MINISTER'S WOOING."--A
YEAR OF SADNESS.--LETTER TO LADY BYRON.--LETTER TO HER DAUGHTER.--
DEPARTURE FOR EUROPE.


CHAPTER XV.

THE THIRD TRIP TO EUROPE, 1859.

THIRD VISIT TO EUROPE.--LADY BYRON ON "THE MINISTER'S WOOING."--SOME
FOREIGN PEOPLE AND THINGS AS THEY APPEARED TO PROFESSOR STOWE.--A
WINTER IN ITALY.--THINGS UNSEEN AND UNREVEALED.--SPECULATIONS
CONCERNING SPIRITUALISM.--JOHN RUSKIN.--MRS. BROWNING.--THE RETURN TO
AMERICA.--LETTERS TO DR. HOLMES


CHAPTER XVI.

THE CIVIL WAR, 1860-1865.

THE OUTBREAK OF CIVIL WAR.--MRS. STOWE'S SON ENLISTS.--THANKSGIVING
DAY IN WASHINGTON.--THE PROCLAMATION OF EMANCIPATION.--REJOICINGS IN
BOSTON.--FRED STOWE AT GETTYSBURG.--LEAVING ANDOVER AND SETTLING IN
HARTFORD.--A REPLY TO THE WOMEN OF ENGLAND.--LETTERS FROM JOHN BRIGHT,
ARCHBISHOP WHATELY, AND NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.


CHAPTER XVII.

FLORIDA, 1865-1869.

LETTER TO DUCHESS OF ARGYLL.--MRS. STOWE DESIRES TO HAVE A HOME AT THE
SOUTH.--FLORIDA THE BEST FIELD FOR DOING GOOD.--SHE BUYS A PLACE AT
MANDARIN.--A CHARMING WINTER RESIDENCE--"PALMETTO LEAVES."--EASTER
SUNDAY AT MANDARIN.--CORRESPONDENCE WITH DR. HOLMES.--"POGANUC
PEOPLE."--RECEPTIONS IN NEW ORLEANS AND TALLAHASSEE.--LAST WINTER AT
MANDARIN.


CHAPTER XVIII.

OLDTOWN FOLKS, 1869.

PROFESSOR STOWE THE ORIGINAL OF "HARRY" IN "OLDTOWN FOLKS."--PROFESSOR
STOWE'S LETTER TO GEORGE ELIOT.--HER REMARKS ON THE SAME.--PROFESSOR
STOWE'S NARRATIVE OF HIS YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES IN THE WORLD OF SPIRITS.
--PROFESSOR STOWE'S INFLUENCE ON MRS. STOWE'S LITERARY LIFE.--GEORGE
ELIOT ON "OLDTOWN FOLKS."


CHAPTER XIX.

THE BYRON CONTROVERSY, 1869-1870.

MRS. STOWE'S STATEMENT OF HER OWN CASE.--THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH
SHE FIRST MET LADY BYRON.--LETTERS TO LADY BYRON.--LETTER TO DR.
HOLMES WHEN ABOUT TO PUBLISH "THE TRUE STORY OF LADY BYRON'S LIFE" IN
THE "ATLANTIC."--DR. HOLMES'S REPLY.--THE CONCLUSION OF THE MATTER.


CHAPTER XX.

GEORGE ELIOT.

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.


CHAPTER XXI.

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.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

PORTRAIT OF MRS. STOWE. From a crayon by Richmond, made in England in
1853

SILVER INKSTAND PRESENTED TO MRS. STOWE BY HER ENGLISH ADMIRERS IN
1853

PORTRAIT OF MRS. STOWE'S GRANDMOTHER, ROXANNA FOOTE. From a miniature
painted on ivory by her daughter, Mrs. Lyman Beecher.

BIRTHPLACE AT LITCHFIELD, CONN.

PORTRAIT OF CATHERINE E. BEECHER. From a photograph taken in 1875

THE HOME AT WALNUT HILLS, CINCINNATI. [Footnote: From recent
photographs and from views in the Autobiography of Lyman Beecher,
published by Messrs. Harper & Brothers.]

PORTRAIT OF HENRY WARD BEECHER. From a photograph by Rockwood, in 1884

MANUSCRIPT PAGE OF "UNCLE TOM'S CABIN" (facsimile)

THE ANDOVER HOME. From a painting by F. Rondel, in 1860, owned by Mrs.
H. F. Allen.

PORTRAIT OF LYMAN BEECHER, AT THE AGE OF EIGHTY-SEVEN. From a painting
owned by the Boston Congregational Club.

PORTRAIT OF THE DUCHESS OF SUTHERLAND. From an engraving presented to
Mrs. Stowe.

THE OLD HOME AT HARTFORD

THE HOME AT MANDARIN, FLORIDA

PORTRAIT OF CALVIN ELLIS STOWE. From a photograph taken in 1882

PORTRAIT OF MRS. STOWE. From a photograph by Ritz and Hastings, in
1884

THE LATER HARTFORD HOME




CHAPTER I.

CHILDHOOD, 1811-1824.


DEATH OF HER MOTHER.--FIRST JOURNEY FROM HOME.--LIFE AT NUT PLAINS.--
SCHOOL DAYS AND HOURS WITH FAVORITE AUTHORS.--THE NEW MOTHER.--
LITCHFIELD ACADEMY AND ITS INFLUENCE.--FIRST LITERARY EFFORTS.--A
REMARKABLE COMPOSITION.--GOES TO HARTFORD.

Harriet Beecher (Stowe) was born June 14, 1811, in the characteristic
New England town of Litchfield, Conn. Her father was the Rev. Dr.
Lyman Beecher, a distinguished Calvinistic divine, her mother Roxanna
Foote, his first wife. The little new-comer was ushered into a
household of happy, healthy children, and found five brothers and
sisters awaiting her. The eldest was Catherine, born September 6,
1800. Following her were two sturdy boys, William and Edward; then
came Mary, then George, and at last Harriet. Another little Harriet
born three years before had died when only one month old, and the
fourth daughter was named, in memory of this sister, Harriet Elizabeth
Beecher. Just two years after Harriet was born, in the same month,
another brother, Henry Ward, was welcomed to the family circle, and
after him came Charles, the last of Roxanna Beecher's children.

The first memorable incident of Harriet's life was the death of her
mother, which occurred when she was four years old, and which ever
afterwards remained with her as the tenderest, saddest, and most
sacred memory of her childhood. Mrs. Stowe's recollections of her
mother are found in a letter to her brother Charles, afterwards
published in the "Autobiography and Correspondence of Lyman Beecher."
She says:--

"I was between three and four years of age when our mother died, and
my personal recollections of her are therefore but few. But the deep
interest and veneration that she inspired in all who knew her were
such that during all my childhood I was constantly hearing her spoken
of, and from one friend or another some incident or anecdote of her
life was constantly being impressed upon me.

"Mother was one of those strong, restful, yet widely sympathetic
natures in whom all around seemed to find comfort and repose. The
communion between her and my father was a peculiar one. It was an
intimacy throughout the whole range of their being. There was no human
mind in whose decisions he had greater confidence. Both intellectually
and morally he regarded her as the better and stronger portion of
himself, and I remember hearing him say that after her death his first
sensation was a sort of terror, like that of a child suddenly shut out
alone in the dark.

"In my own childhood only two incidents of my mother twinkle like rays
through the darkness. One was of our all running and dancing out
before her from the nursery to the sitting-room one Sabbath morning,
and her pleasant voice saying after us, 'Remember the Sabbath day to
keep it holy, children.'

"Another remembrance is this: mother was an enthusiastic
horticulturist in all the small ways that limited means allowed. Her
brother John in New York had just sent her a small parcel of fine
tulip-bulbs. I remember rummaging these out of an obscure corner of
the nursery one day when she was gone out, and being strongly seized
with the idea that they were good to eat, using all the little English
I then possessed to persuade my brothers that these were onions such
as grown people ate and would be very nice for us. So we fell to and
devoured the whole, and I recollect being somewhat disappointed in the
odd sweetish taste, and thinking that onions were not so nice as I had
supposed. Then mother's serene face appeared at the nursery door and
we all ran towards her, telling with one voice of our discovery and
achievement. We had found a bag of onions and had eaten them all up.

"Also I remember that there was not even a momentary expression of
impatience, but that she sat down and said, 'My dear children, what
you have done makes mamma very sorry. Those were not onions but roots
of beautiful flowers, and if you had let them alone we should have
next summer in the garden great beautiful red and yellow flowers such
as you never saw.' I remember how drooping and dispirited we all grew
at this picture, and how sadly we regarded the empty paper bag.

"Then I have a recollection of her reading aloud to the children Miss
Edgeworth's 'Frank,' which had just come out, I believe, and was
exciting a good deal of attention among the educational circles of
Litchfield. After that came a time when every one said she was sick,
and I used to be permitted to go once a day into her room, where she
sat bolstered up in bed. I have a vision of a very fair face with a
bright red spot on each cheek and her quiet smile. I remember dreaming
one night that mamma had got well, and of waking with loud transports
of joy that were hushed down by some one who came into the room. My
dream was indeed a true one. She was forever well.

"Then came the funeral. Henry was too little to go. I can see his
golden curls and little black frock as he frolicked in the sun like a
kitten, full of ignorant joy.

"I recollect the mourning dresses, the tears of the older children,
the walking to the burial-ground, and somebody's speaking at the
grave. Then all was closed, and we little ones, to whom it was so
confused, asked where she was gone and would she never come back.

"They told us at one time that she had been laid in the ground, and at
another that she had gone to heaven. Thereupon Henry, putting the two
things together, resolved to dig through the ground and go to heaven
to find her; for being discovered under sister Catherine's window one
morning digging with great zeal and earnestness, she called to him to
know what he was doing. Lifting his curly head, he answered with great
simplicity, 'Why, I'm going to heaven to find mamma.'

"Although our mother's bodily presence thus disappeared from our
circle, I think her memory and example had more influence in moulding
her family, in deterring from evil and exciting to good, than the
living presence of many mothers. It was a memory that met us
everywhere, for every person in the town, from the highest to the
lowest, seemed to have been so impressed by her character and life
that they constantly reflected some portion of it back upon us.

"The passage in 'Uncle Tom' where Augustine St. Clare describes his
mother's influence is a simple reproduction of my own mother's
influence as it has always been felt in her family."

Of his deceased wife Dr. Beecher said: "Few women have attained to
more remarkable piety. Her faith was strong and her prayer prevailing.
It was her wish that all her sons should devote themselves to the
ministry, and to it she consecrated them with fervent prayer. Her
prayers have been heard. All her sons have been converted and are now,
according to her wish, ministers of Christ."

Such was Roxanna Beecher, whose influence upon her four-year-old
daughter was strong enough to mould the whole after-life of the author
of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." After the mother's death the Litchfield home
was such a sad, lonely place for the child that her aunt, Harriet
Foote, took her away for a long visit at her grandmother's at Nut
Plains, near Guilford, Conn., the first journey from home the little
one had ever made. Of this visit Mrs. Stowe herself says:--

"Among my earliest recollections are those of a visit to Nut Plains
immediately after my mother's death. Aunt Harriet Foote, who was with
mother during all her last sickness, took me home to stay with her. At
the close of what seemed to me a long day's ride we arrived after dark
at a lonely little white farmhouse, and were ushered into a large
parlor where a cheerful wood fire was crackling; I was placed in the
arms of an old lady, who held me close and wept silently, a thing at
which I marveled, for my great loss was already faded from my childish
mind.

"I remember being put to bed by my aunt in a large room, on one side
of which stood the bed appropriated to her and me, and on the other
that of my grandmother. My aunt Harriet was no common character. A
more energetic human being never undertook the education of a child.
Her ideas of education were those of a vigorous English woman of the
old school. She believed in the Church, and had she been born under
that regime would have believed in the king stoutly, although being of
the generation following the Revolution she was a not less stanch
supporter of the Declaration of Independence.

[Illustration: Roxanna Foote]

"According to her views little girls were to be taught to move very
gently, to speak softly and prettily, to say 'yes ma'am,' and 'no
ma'am,' never to tear their clothes, to sew, to knit at regular hours,
to go to church on Sunday and make all the responses, and to come home
and be catechised.

"During these catechisings she used to place my little cousin Mary and
myself bolt upright at her knee, while black Dinah and Harry, the
bound boy, were ranged at a respectful distance behind us; for Aunt
Harriet always impressed it upon her servants 'to order themselves
lowly and reverently to all their betters,' a portion of the Church
catechism that always pleased me, particularly when applied to them,
as it insured their calling me 'Miss Harriet,' and treating me with a
degree of consideration such as I never enjoyed in the more democratic
circle at home. I became proficient in the Church catechism, and gave
my aunt great satisfaction by the old-fashioned gravity and steadiness
with which I learned to repeat it.

"As my father was a Congregational minister, I believe Aunt Harriet,
though the highest of High Church women, felt some scruples as to
whether it was desirable that my religious education should be
entirely out of the sphere of my birth. Therefore when this
catechetical exercise was finished she would say, 'Now, niece, you
have to learn another catechism, because your father is a Presbyterian
minister,'--and then she would endeavor to make me commit to memory
the Assembly catechism.

"At this lengthening of exercise I secretly murmured. I was rather
pleased at the first question in the Church catechism, which is
certainly quite on the level of any child's understanding,--'What is
your name?' It was such an easy good start, I could say it so loud and
clear, and I was accustomed to compare it with the first question in
the Primer, 'What is the chief end of man?' as vastly more difficult
for me to answer. In fact, between my aunt's secret unbelief and my
own childish impatience of too much catechism, the matter was
indefinitely postponed after a few ineffectual attempts, and I was
overjoyed to hear her announce privately to grandmother that she
thought it would be time enough for Harriet to learn the Presbyterian
catechism when she went home."

Mingled with this superabundance of catechism and plentiful needlework
the child was treated to copious extracts from Lowth's Isaiah,
Buchanan's Researches in Asia, Bishop Heber's Life, and Dr. Johnson's
Works, which, after her Bible and Prayer Book, were her grandmother's
favorite reading. Harriet does not seem to have fully appreciated
these; but she did enjoy her grandmother's comments upon their
biblical readings. Among the Evangelists especially was the old lady
perfectly at home, and her idea of each of the apostles was so
distinct and dramatic that she spoke of them as of familiar
acquaintances. She would, for instance, always smile indulgently at
Peter's remarks and say, "There he is again, now; that's just like
Peter. He's always so ready to put in."

It must have been during this winter spent at Nut Plains, amid such
surroundings, that Harriet began committing to memory that wonderful
assortment of hymns, poems, and scriptural passages from which in
after years she quoted so readily and effectively, for her sister
Catherine, in writing of her the following November, says:--

"Harriet is a very good girl. She has been to school all this summer,
and has learned to read very fluently. She has committed to memory
twenty-seven hymns and two long chapters in the Bible. She has a
remarkably retentive memory and will make a very good scholar."

At this time the child was five years old, and a regular attendant at
"Ma'am Kilbourne's" school on West Street, to which she walked every
day hand in hand with her chubby, rosy-faced, bare-footed, four-year-
old brother, Henry Ward. With the ability to read germinated the
intense literary longing that was to be hers through life. In those
days but few books were specially prepared for children, and at six
years of age we find the little girl hungrily searching for mental
food amid barrels of old sermons and pamphlets stored in a corner of
the garret. Here it seemed to her were some thousands of the most
unintelligible things. "An appeal on the unlawfulness of a man
marrying his wife's sister" turned up in every barrel she
investigated, by twos, or threes, or dozens, till her soul despaired
of finding an end. At last her patient search was rewarded, for at the
very bottom of a barrel of musty sermons she discovered an ancient
volume of "The Arabian Nights." With this her fortune was made, for in
these most fascinating of fairy tales the imaginative child discovered
a well-spring of joy that was all her own. When things went astray
with her, when her brothers started off on long excursions, refusing
to take her with them, or in any other childish sorrow, she had only
to curl herself up in some snug corner and sail forth on her bit of
enchanted carpet into fairyland to forget all her griefs.

In recalling her own child-life Mrs. Stowe, among other things,
describes her father's library, and gives a vivid bit of her own
experiences within its walls. She says: "High above all the noise of
the house, this room had to me the air of a refuge and a sanctuary.
Its walls were set round from floor to ceiling with the friendly,
quiet faces of books, and there stood my father's great writing-chair,
on one arm of which lay open always his Cruden's Concordance and his
Bible. Here I loved to retreat and niche myself down in a quiet corner
with my favorite books around me. I had a kind of sheltered feeling as
I thus sat and watched my father writing, turning to his books, and
speaking from time to time to himself in a loud, earnest whisper. I
vaguely felt that he was about some holy and mysterious work quite
beyond my little comprehension, and I was careful never to disturb him
by question or remark.

"The books ranged around filled me too with a solemn awe. On the lower
shelves were enormous folios, on whose backs I spelled in black
letters, 'Lightfoot Opera,' a title whereat I wondered, considering
the bulk of the volumes. Above these, grouped along in friendly,
social rows, were books of all sorts, sizes, and bindings, the titles
of which I had read so often that I knew them by heart. There were
Bell's Sermons, Bonnett's Inquiries, Bogue's Essays, Toplady on
Predestination, Boston's Fourfold State, Law's Serious Call, and other
works of that kind. These I looked over wistfully, day after day,
without even a hope of getting something interesting out of them. The
thought that father could read and understand things like these filled
me with a vague awe, and I wondered if I would ever be old enough to
know what it was all about.

"But there was one of my father's books that proved a mine of wealth
to me. It was a happy hour when he brought home and set up in his
bookcase Cotton Mather's 'Magnalia,' in a new edition of two volumes.
What wonderful stories those! Stories too about my own country.
Stories that made me feel the very ground I trod on to be consecrated
by some special dealing of God's Providence."

[Illustration: BIRTHPLACE AT LITCHFIELD, CONNECTICUT.]

In continuing these reminiscences Mrs. Stowe describes as follows her
sensations upon first hearing the Declaration of Independence: "I had
never heard it before, and even now had but a vague idea of what was
meant by some parts of it. Still I gathered enough from the recital of
the abuses and injuries that had driven my nation to this course to
feel myself swelling with indignation, and ready with all my little
mind and strength to applaud the concluding passage, which Colonel
Talmadge rendered with resounding majesty. I was as ready as any of
them to pledge my life, fortune, and sacred honor for such a cause.
The heroic element was strong in me, having come down by ordinary
generation from a long line of Puritan ancestry, and just now it made
me long to do something, I knew not what: to fight for my country, or
to make some declaration on my own account."

When Harriet was nearly six years old her father married as his second
wife Miss Harriet Porter of Portland, Maine, and Mrs. Stowe thus
describes her new mother: "I slept in the nursery with my two younger
brothers. We knew that father was gone away somewhere on a journey and
was expected home, therefore the sound of a bustle in the house the
more easily awoke us. As father came into our room our new mother
followed him. She was very fair, with bright blue eyes, and soft
auburn hair bound round with a black velvet bandeau, and to us she
seemed very beautiful.

"Never did stepmother make a prettier or sweeter impression. The
morning following her arrival we looked at her with awe. She seemed to
us so fair, so delicate, so elegant, that we were almost afraid to go
near her. We must have appeared to her as rough, red-faced, country
children, honest, obedient, and bashful. She was peculiarly dainty and
neat in all her ways and arrangements, and I used to feel breezy,
rough, and rude in her presence.

"In her religion she was distinguished for a most unfaltering Christ-
worship. She was of a type noble but severe, naturally hard, correct,
exact and exacting, with intense natural and moral ideality. Had it
not been that Doctor Payson had set up and kept before her a tender,
human, loving Christ, she would have been only a conscientious bigot.
This image, however, gave softness and warmth to her religious life,
and I have since noticed how her Christ-enthusiasm has sprung up in
the hearts of all her children."

In writing to her old home of her first impressions of her new one,
Mrs. Beecher says: "It is a very lovely family, and with heartfelt
gratitude I observed how cheerful and healthy they were. The sentiment
is greatly increased, since I perceive them to be of agreeable habits
and some of them of uncommon intellect."

This new mother proved to be indeed all that the name implies to her
husband's children, and never did they have occasion to call her aught
other than blessed.

Another year finds a new baby brother, Frederick by name, added to the
family. At this time too we catch a characteristic glimpse of Harriet
in one of her sister Catherine's letters. She says: "Last week we
interred Tom junior with funeral honors by the side of old Tom of
happy memory. Our Harriet is chief mourner always at their funerals.
She asked for what she called an _epithet_ for the gravestone of
Tom junior, which I gave as follows:--

"Here lies our Kit,
Who had a fit,
And acted queer,
Shot with a gun,
Her race is run,
And she lies here."

In June, 1820, little Frederick died from scarlet fever, and Harriet
was seized with a violent attack of the same dread disease; but, after
a severe struggle, recovered.

Following her happy, hearty child-life, we find her tramping through
the woods or going on fishing excursions with her brothers, sitting
thoughtfully in her father's study, listening eagerly to the animated
theological discussions of the day, visiting her grandmother at Nut
Plains, and figuring as one of the brightest scholars in the
Litchfield Academy, taught by Mr. John Brace and Miss Pierce. When she
was eleven years old her brother Edward wrote of her: "Harriet reads
everything she can lay hands on, and sews and knits diligently."

At this time she was no longer the youngest girl of the family, for
another sister (Isabella) had been born in 1822. This event served
greatly to mature her, as she was intrusted with much of the care of
the baby out of school hours. It was not, however, allowed to
interfere in any way with her studies, and, under the skillful
direction of her beloved teachers, she seemed to absorb knowledge with
every sense. She herself writes: "Much of the training and inspiration
of my early days consisted not in the things that I was supposed to be
studying, but in hearing, while seated unnoticed at my desk, the
conversation of Mr. Brace with the older classes. There, from hour to
hour, I listened with eager ears to historical criticisms and
discussions, or to recitations in such works as Paley's Moral
Philosophy, Blair's Rhetoric, Allison on Taste, all full of most
awakening suggestions to my thoughts.

"Mr. Brace exceeded all teachers I ever knew in the faculty of
teaching composition. The constant excitement in which he kept the
minds of his pupils, the wide and varied regions of thought into which
he led them, formed a preparation for composition, the main requisite
for which is to have something which one feels interested to say."

In her tenth year Harriet began what to her was the fascinating work
of writing compositions, and so rapidly did she progress that at the
school exhibition held when she was twelve years old, hers was one of
the two or three essays selected to be read aloud before the august
assembly of visitors attracted by the occasion.

Of this event Mrs. Stowe writes: "I remember well the scene at that
exhibition, to me so eventful. The hall was crowded with all the
literati of Litchfield. Before them all our compositions were read
aloud. When mine was read I noticed that father, who was sitting on
high by Mr. Brace, brightened and looked interested, and at the close
I heard him ask, 'Who wrote that composition?' 'Your daughter, sir,'
was the answer. It was the proudest moment of my life. There was no
mistaking father's face when he was pleased, and to have interested
him was past all juvenile triumphs."

That composition has been carefully preserved, and on the old yellow
sheets the cramped childish hand-writing is still distinctly legible.
As the first literary production of one who afterwards attained such
distinction as a writer, it is deemed of sufficient value and interest
to be embodied in this biography exactly as it was written and read
sixty-five years ago. The subject was certainly a grave one to be
handled by a child of twelve.

CAN THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL BE PROVED BY THE LIGHT OF NATURE?

It has justly been concluded by the philosophers of every age that
"The proper study of mankind is man," and his nature and composition,
both physical and mental, have been subjects of the most critical
examination. In the course of these researches many have been at a
loss to account for the change which takes place in the body at the
time of death. By some it has been attributed to the flight of its
tenant, and by others to its final annihilation.

The questions, "What becomes of the soul at the time of death?" and,
if it be not annihilated, "What is its destiny after death?" are those
which, from the interest that we all feel in them, will probably
engross universal attention.

In pursuing these inquiries it will be necessary to divest ourselves
of all that knowledge which we have obtained from the light which
revelation has shed over them, and place ourselves in the same
position as the philosophers of past ages when considering the same
subject.

The first argument which has been advanced to prove the immortality of
the soul is drawn from the nature of the mind itself. It has (say the
supporters of this theory) no composition of parts, and therefore, as
there are no particles, is not susceptible of divisibility and cannot
be acted upon by decay, and therefore if it will not decay it will
exist forever.

Now because the mind is not susceptible of decay effected in the
ordinary way by a gradual separation of particles, affords no proof
that that same omnipotent power which created it cannot by another
simple exertion of power again reduce it to nothing. The only reason
for belief which this argument affords is that the soul cannot be
acted upon by decay. But it does not prove that it cannot destroy its
existence. Therefore, for the validity of this argument, it must
either be proved that the "Creator" has not the power to destroy it,
or that he has not the will; but as neither of these can be
established, our immortality is left dependent on the pleasure of the
Creator. But it is said that it is evident that the Creator designed
the soul for immortality, or he would never have created it so
essentially different from the body, for had they both been designed
for the same end they would both have been created alike, as there
would have been no object in forming them otherwise. This only proves
that the soul and body had not the same destinations. Now of what
these destinations are we know nothing, and after much useless
reasoning we return where we began, our argument depending upon the
good pleasure of the Creator.

And here it is said that a being of such infinite wisdom and
benevolence as that of which the Creator is possessed would not have
formed man with such vast capacities and boundless desires, and would
have given him no opportunity for exercising them.

In order to establish the validity of this argument it is necessary to
prove by the light of Nature that the Creator is benevolent, which,
being impracticable, is of itself sufficient to render the argument
invalid.

But the argument proceeds upon the supposition that to destroy the
soul would be unwise. Now this is arraigning the "All-wise" before the
tribunal of his subjects to answer for the mistakes in his government.
Can we look into the council of the "Unsearchable" and see what means
are made to answer their ends? We do not know but the destruction of
the soul may, in the government of God, be made to answer such a
purpose that its existence would be contrary to the dictates of
wisdom.

The great desire of the soul for immortality, its secret, innate
horror of annihilation, has been brought to prove its immortality. But
do we always find this horror or this desire? Is it not much more
evident that the great majority of mankind have no such dread at all?
True that there is a strong feeling of horror excited by the idea of
perishing from the earth and being forgotten, of losing all those
honors and all that fame awaited them. Many feel this secret horror
when they look down upon the vale of futurity and reflect that though
now the idols of the world, soon all which will be left them will be
the common portion of mankind--oblivion! But this dread does not arise
from any idea of their destiny beyond the tomb, and even were this
true, it would afford no proof that the mind would exist forever,
merely from its strong desires. For it might with as much correctness
be argued that the body will exist forever because we have a great
dread of dying, and upon this principle nothing which we strongly
desire would ever be withheld from us, and no evil that we greatly
dread will ever come upon us, a principle evidently false.

Again, it has been said that the constant progression of the powers of
the mind affords another proof of its immortality. Concerning this,
Addison remarks, "Were a human soul ever thus at a stand in her
acquirements, were her faculties to be full blown and incapable of
further enlargement, I could imagine that she might fall away
insensibly and drop at once into a state of annihilation. But can we
believe a thinking being that is in a perpetual progress of
improvement, and traveling on from perfection to perfection after
having just looked abroad into the works of her Creator and made a few
discoveries of his infinite wisdom and goodness, must perish at her
first setting out and in the very beginning of her inquiries?"

In answer to this it may be said that the soul is not always
progressing in her powers. Is it not rather a subject of general
remark that those brilliant talents which in youth expand, in manhood
become stationary, and in old age gradually sink to decay? Till when
the ancient man descends to the tomb scarce a wreck of that once
powerful mind remains.

Who, but upon reading the history of England, does not look with awe
upon the effects produced by the talents of her Elizabeth? Who but
admires that undaunted firmness in time of peace and that profound
depth of policy which she displayed in the cabinet?



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Main -> Stowe, Charles Edward -> Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe Compiled From Her Letters and Journals by Her Son Charles Edward Stowe