December 25, 1851 Transcription

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Chapter XXVII.

Week after week glided away in the St. Clare mansion, and the waves of life settled back to their usual flow where that little bark had gone down. For how imperiously, how coolly, in disregard of all one’s feeling, does the hard, cold, uninteresting course of daily realities move on! Still must we eat, and drink, and sleep, and wake again—still bargain, buy, sell, ask and answer questions—pursue, in short, a thousand shadows, though all interest in them be over; the cold mechanical habit of living remaining after all vital interest in it has fled.

All the interests and hopes of St. Clare’s life had unconsciously wound themselves around this child. It was for Eva that he had managed his property; it was for Eva that he had planned the disposal of his time; and to do this and that for Eva—to buy, improve, alter, and arrange, or dispose something for her, had been so long his habit, that now she was gone, there seemed nothing to be thought of, and nothing to be done.

True, there was another life—a life which, once believed in, stands as a solemn, significant figure before the otherwise unmeaning cypress[1] of time, changing them to orders of mysterious, untold value. St. Clare knew this well, and often in many a weary hour he heard that slender childish voice calling him to the skies, and saw that little hand pointing to him the way of life; but a heavy lethargy of sorrow lay on him—he could not arise. He had one of those natures which could better and more clearly conceive of religious things from its own perceptions and instincts, than many a matter of fact and practical Christian. The gift to appreciate and the sense to feel the finer shades and relations of moral things, often seems an attribute of those whose whole life shows a careless disregard of them. Hence Moore, Byron, Goethe, often speak words more wisely descriptive of the true religious sentiment than another man whose whole life is governed by it. In such minds, disregard of religion is a more fearful treason—a more deadly sin.

St. Clare had never pretended to govern himself by any religious obligation, and a certain fineness of nature gave him such an instinctive view of the extent of the requirements of Christianity, that he shrank by anticipation from what he felt would be the exactions of his own conscience, if he once did resolve to assume them. For so inconsistent is human nature, especially in the ideal, that not to undertake a thing at all, seems better than to undertake and come short.

Still St. Clare was in many respects another man. He read his little Eva’s Bible seriously and honestly, he thought more soberly and practically of his relations to his servants— enough to make him extremely dissatisfied with both his past and present course; and one thing he did soon after his return to New Orleans, and that was to commence the legal steps necessary to Tom’s emancipation, which was to be perfected as soon as he could get through the necessary formalities. Meantime he attached himself to Tom more and more every day. In all the wide world, there was nothing that seemed to remind him so much of Eva, and he would insist on keeping him constantly about him; and fastidious and unapproachable as he was with regard to his deeper feelings, he almost thought aloud to Tom. Nor would any one have wondered at it, who had seen the expression of affection and devotion with which Tom continually followed his young master.

“Well, Tom,” said St. Clare, the day after he had commenced the legal formalities for his enfranchisement, “I’m going to make a free man of you—so have your trunk packed, and get ready to set out for Kentuck.”

The sudden light of joy that shone in Tom’s face as he raised his hands to heaven, his emphatic “Bless the Lord,” rather discomposed St. Clare; he did not like it that Tom should be so ready to leave him.

“You haven’t had such very bad times here, that you need be in such a rapture, Tom,” he said, drily.

“No, no, mass’r! taint that—it’s bein[2] a free man! That’s what I’m joyin for.”

“Why, Tom, don’t you think, for your own part, you’ve been better off than to be free?”

No, indeed, mass’r St. Clare,” said Tom, with a flash of energy. “No, indeed!”

“Why, Tom, you couldn’t possibly have earned, by your work, such clothes and such living as I have given you.”

“Knows all that, mass’r St. Clare; massr’s been too good; but, mass’r, I’d rather have poor clothes, poor house, poor everything, and have ’em mine, than have the best, and have ’em any man’s else—I had so, mass’r; I think it’s natur, mass’r.”

“I suppose so, Tom, and you’ll be going off and leaving me in a month or so,” he added, rather discontentedly. “Though why you shouldn’t, no mortal knows,” he said, in a gayer tone; and getting up, he began to walk the floor.”

“Not while mass’r is in trouble,” said Tom. “I’ll stay with mass’r as long as he wants me— so as I can be any use.”

“Not while I’m in trouble, Tom?” said St. Clare, looking sadly out of the window. . . . . “And when will my trouble be over?”

“When mass’r St. Clare’s a Christian,” said Tom.

“And you really mean to stay by till that day comes,”[3] said St. Clare, half smiling, as he turned from the window, and laid his hand on Tom’s shoulder. “Ah, Tom, you soft, silly boy; I won’t keep you till that day; go home to your wife and children, and give my love to all.”

“I’s faith to believe that day will come,” said Tom, earnestly, and with tears in his eyes; “the Lord has a work for mass’r.”

“A work, hey?” said St. Clare; “well, now, Tom, give me your views on what sort of a work it is; let’s hear.”

“Why, even a poor fellow like me has a work from the Lord; and mass’r St. Clare, that has larnin, and riches, and friends—how much he might do for the Lord!”

“Tom, you seem to think the Lord needs a great deal done for him,” said St. Clare, smiling.

“We does for the Lord when we does for his critturs,” said Tom.

“Good theology, Tom; better than Dr. B. preaches, I dare swear,” said St. Clare.

The conversation was here interrupted by the announcement of some visiters.

Marie St. Clare felt the loss of Eva as deeply as she could feel anything, and as she was a woman that has[4] a great faculty of making everybody unhappy when she was, her immediate attendants had still stronger reason to regret the loss of their young mistress, whose winning ways and gentle intercessions had so often been a shield to them from the tyrannical and selfish exactions of her mother. Poor old Mammy, in particular, whose heart, severed from all natural domestic ties, had consoled itself with this one beautiful being, was almost heart-broken. She cried day and night, and was from excess of sorrow less skillful and alert in her ministrations on her mistress than usual, which drew down a constant storm of invectives on her defenceless head.

Miss Ophelia felt the loss, but in her good and honest heart it bore fruit unto everlasting life. She was more softened, more gentle, and though equally assiduous in every duty, it was with a chastened and quiet air, as one who communed with her own heart not in vain. She was more diligent in teaching Topsy— taught her mainly from the Bible—did not any longer shrink from her touch, or manifest an ill-repressed disgust, because she felt none. She viewed her now through the softened medium that Eva’s hand had first held before her eyes, and saw in her only an immortal creature, whom God had sent to be led by her to glory and virtue. Topsy did not become at once a saint; but the life and death of Eva did work a marked change in her. The callous indifference was gone—there was now sensibility, hope, desire, and the striving for good—a strife irregular, interrupted, suspended oft, but yet renewed again.

One day, when Topsy had been sent for by Miss Ophelia, she came, hastily thrusting something into her bosom.

“What are you doing there you limb. You’ve been stealing something, I’ll b’ bound,” said the imperious little Rosa, who had been sent to call her—seizing her at the same time roughly by the arm.

“You go ’long, Miss Rosa,” said Topsy, pulling from her, “taint none o’ your business.”

“None o’ your sa’ce,” said Rosa. “I saw you hiding something—I know yer tricks,” and Rosa seized her arm, and tried to force her hand into her bosom, while Topsy, enraged, kicked and fought valiantly for what she considered her rights. The clamor and confusion of the battle drew Miss Ophelia and St. Clare both to the spot.

“She’s been stealing!” said Rosa.

“I haint, neither,” vociferated Topsy, sobbing with passion.

“Give me that, whatever it is,” said Miss Ophelia, firmly.

Topsy hesitated, but on a second order pulled out of her bosom a little parcel done up in the foot of one of her own old stockings.

Miss Ophelia turned it out. There was a small book which had been given to Topsy by Eva, containing a single verse of Scripture, arranged for every day in the year, and in a paper the curl of hair that she had given her on that memorable day when she had taken her last farewell.

St. Clare was a good deal affected at the sight of it; the little book had been rolled in a long strip of black crape, torn from the funeral weeds.

“What did you wrap this round the book for?” said St. Clare, holding up the crape.

“Cause—cause—cause ’twas Miss Eva— oh, don’t take ’em away, please,” she said; and sitting flat down on the floor, and putting her apron over her head, she began to sob vehemently.

It was a curious mixture of the pathetic and the ludicrous—the little old stocking—black crape—text book—fair soft curl—and Topsy’s utter distress.

St. Clare smiled, but there were tears in his eyes as he said—

“Come, come; don’t cry; you shall have them;” and putting them together, he threw them into her lap, and drew Miss Ophelia with him into the parlor.

“I really think you can make something of that concern,” he said, pointing with his thumb backward over his shoulder. “Any mind that is capable of a real sorrow, is capable of good. You must try and do something with her.”

“The child has improved greatly,” said Miss Ophelia. “I have great hopes of her; but Augustine,” she said, laying her hand on his arm, “one thing I want to ask; whose is this child to be?—yours or mine?”

“Why, I gave her to you,” said[5] Augustine.

“But not legally—I want her to be mine legally,” said Miss Ophelia.

“Whew! cousin,” said Augustine. “What will the Abolition Society think. They’ll have a day of fasting appointed for this backsliding, if you become a slave-holder.”

“Oh, nonsense; I want her mine, that I may have a right to take her to the free States, and give her her liberty, that all I am trying to do be not undone.”

“Oh, cousin, what an awful ‘doing evil that good may come.’ I can’t encourage it.”

“I don’t want you to joke, but to reason,” said Miss Ophelia. “There is no use in my trying to make this child a Christian child, unless I save her from all the chances and reverses of slavery; and if you really are willing I should have her, I want you to give me a deed of gift, or some legal paper.”

“Well, well,” said St. Clare, “I will;” and he sat down and unfolded a newspaper to read.

“But I want it done now,” said Miss Ophelia.

“What’s your hurry?”

“Because now is the only time there ever is to do a thing in,” said Miss Ophelia. “Come, now, here’s paper, pen, and ink; just write a paper.”

St. Clare, like most men of his class of mind, cordially hated the present tense of action, generally; and therefore he was considerably annoyed by Miss Ophelia’s downrightness.

“Why, what’s the matter?” said he. “Can’t you take my word. One would think you had taken lessons of the Jews, coming at a fellow so?”

“I want to make sure of it,” said Miss Ophelia. “You may die, or fail, and then Topsy be hustled off to auctioa,[6] spite of all I can do.”

“Really, you are quite provident. Well, seeing I’m in the hands of a Quaker, there is nothing for it but to concede;” and St. Clare rapidly wrote off a deed of gift, which, as he was well versed in the forms of law, he could easily do, and signed his name to it in sprawling capitals, concluding by a tremendous flourish.

“There, isn’t that black and white, now, Miss Vermont?” he said, as he handed it to her.

“Good boy,” said Miss Ophelia, smiling. “But must it not be witnessed?”

“Oh, bother—yes. Here,” he said, opening the door into Marie’s apartment, “Marie, cousin wants your autograph; just put your name down here.”

“What’s this?” said Marie, as she ran over the paper. “Ridiculous! I thought cousin was too pious for such horrid things,” she added, as she carelessly wrote her name; “but if she has a fancy for that article, I am sure she’s welcome.”

“There, now, she’s yours, body and soul,” said St. Clare, handing the paper.

“No more mine now than she was before,” said Miss Ophelia. “Nobody but God has a right to give her to me; but I can protect her now.”

“Well, she’s yours by a fiction of law, then,” said St. Clare, as he turned back into the parlor, and sat down to his paper.

Miss Ophelia, who seldom sat much in Marie’s company, followed him into the parlor, having first carefully laid away the paper.

“Augustine,” she said, suddenly, as she sat knitting, “have you ever made any provision for your servants in case of your death?”

“No,” said St. Clare, as he read on.

“Then all your indulgence to them may prove a great cruelty by and by.”

St. Clare had often thought the same thing himself,” but he answered, negligently—

“Well, I mean to make a provision by and by.”

“When?” said Miss Ophelia.

“Oh, one of these days.”

“What if you should die first?”

“Cousin, what’s the matter?” said St. Clare, laying down his paper and looking at her. “Do you think I show symptoms of yellow fever or cholera, that you are making post mortem arrangements with such zeal?”

“ ‘In the midst of life we are in death,’ ” said Miss Ophelia.

St. Clare rose up, and laying the paper down, carelessly, walked to the door that stood open on the verandah, to put an end to a conversation that was not agreeable to him. Mechanically, he repeated the last word again— “Death!”—and as he leaned against the railings, and watched the sparkling water as it rose and fell in the fountain, and, as in a dim and dizzy haze, saw flowers and trees and vases of the courts, he repeated again the mystic word so common in every mouth, yet of such fearful power—“Death! “Strange that there should be such a word,” he said, “and such a thing, and we ever forget it; that one should be living, warm and beautiful, full of hopes, desires, and wants, one day, and the next be gone, utterly gone, and forever!”

It was a warm, golden evening, and as he walked to the other end of the verandah he saw Tom busily intent on his Bible, pointing, as he did so, with his finger to each successive word, and whispering them to himself with an earnest air.

“Want me to read to you, Tom?” said St. Clare, seating himself carelessly by him.

“If mass’r pleases,” said Tom, gratefully. “Mass’r makes it so much plainer.”

St. Clare took the book and glanced at the place, and began reading one of the passages which Tom had designated by the heavy marks around it. It ran as follows:

“When the son[7] of man shall come in his glory, and all his holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory—and before him shall be gathered all nations—and he shall separate them, one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.” St. Clare read on in an animated voice till he came to the last of the verses.

“Then shall the King say unto them on his left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into ever-lasting fire—for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat—I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink—I was a stranger, and ye took me not in—naked, and ye clothed me not—I was sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they answer unto Him, Lord where saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he say unto them, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not to me.”

St. Clare seemed struck with this last passage, for he read it twice—the second time slowly, and as if he were revolving the words in his mind.

“Tom,” he said, “these folks that get such hard measure seem to have been doing just what I have—living good, easy, respectable lives, and not troubling themselves to inquire how many of their brethren were hungry or athirst, or sick or in prison.”

Tom did not answer.

St. Clare rose up and walked thoughtfully up and down the verandah, seeming to forget everything in his own thoughts; so absorbed was he, that Tom had to remind him twice that the tea bell had rung, before he could get his attention.

St. Clare was absent and thoughtful all tea time. After tea, he, and Marie, and Miss Ophelia, took possession of the parlor, almost in silence.

Marie disposed herself on a lounge, under a silken mosquito curtain, and was soon sound asleep. Miss Ophelia silently busied herself with her knitting. St. Clare sat down to the piano, and began playing a soft and melancholy movement with the Æolian accompaniment. He seemed in a deep reverie, and to be soliloquizing to himself by music. After a little, he opened one of the drawers, took out an old music book whose leaves were yellow with age, and began turning it over.

“There,” he said to Miss Ophelia, “this was one of my mother’s books—and here is her handwriting—come and look at it. She copied and arranged this from Mozart’s Requiem Miss Ophelia came accordingly.

“It was something she used to sing often,” said St. Clare. “I think I can hear her now.”

He struck a few majestic chords, and began singing the grand old Latin words, the “Dies Iræ.”

Tom, who was listening in the outer verandah, was drawn by the sound to the very door, where he stood earnestly. He did not understand the words, of course, but the music and manner of singing appeared to affect him strongly, especially when St. Clare sang the more pathetic parts. Tom would have sympathized more heartily if he had known the meaning of the beautiful words—

Recordare Jesu pie
Quod sum causa tuæ viæ
Ne me perdas, illa die
Quærens me sedisti lassus
Redemisti crucem passus
Tantus labor non sit cassus.
[*]

St. Clare threw a deep and pathetic expression into the words, for the shadowy veil of years seemed drawn away, and he seemed to hear his mother’s voice leading his. Voice and instrument seemed both living, and threw out with vivid sympathy those strains which the ethereal Mozart first conceived as his own dying requiem.

When St. Clare had done singing, he sat leaning his head upon his hand a few moments, and then began walking up and down the floor.

“What a sublime conception is that of a last judgment,” said he—“a righting of all the wrongs of ages!—a solving of all moral problems, by an unanswerable Wisdom—it is, indeed, a wonderful image.”

“It is a fearful one to us,” said Miss Ophelia.

“It ought to be to me, I suppose,” said St. Clare, stopping thoughtfully, “I was reading to Tom this afternoon that chapter in Matthew that gives an account of it, and I have been quite struck with it. One should have expected some terrible enormities charged to those who are excluded from Heaven, as the reason; but no—they are condemned for not doing positive good, as if that included every possible harm.”

“Perhaps,” said Miss Ophelia, “it is impossible for a person who does no good not to do harm.”

“And what,” said St. Clare, speaking abstractedly, but with deep feeling, “what shall be said of one whose own heart, whose education, and the wants of society, have called in vain to some noble purpose; who has floated on, a dreamy, neutral spectator of the struggles, agonies, and wrongs of man, when he should have been a worker!”

“I should say,” said Miss Ophelia, “that he ought to repent, and begin now.”

“Always practical, and to the point!” said St. Clare, his face breaking out into a smile. “You never leave me any time for general reflections, cousin; you always bring me short up against the actual present; you have a kind of eternal now always in your mind.

Now is all the time I have anything to do with,” said Miss Ophelia.

“Dear little Eva—poor child,” said St. Clare, “she had set her little simple soul on a good work for me.”

It was the first time since Eva’s death that he had ever said as many words as these of her, and he spoke now evidently repressing very strong feeling.

“My view of Christianity is such,” he added, “that I think no man can consistently profess it without throwing the whole weight of his being against this monstrous system of injustice that lies at the foundation of all our society, and, if need be, sacrificing himself in the battle; that is, I mean that I[8] could not be a Christian otherwise, though I have certainly had intercourse with a great many enlightened and Christian people who did no such thing; and I confess that the apathy of religious people on this subject, their want of perception of wrongs that filled me with horror, have engendered in me more skepticism than any other thing.”

“If you knew all this,” said Miss Ophelia, “why didn’t you do it?”

“Oh, because I have had only that kind of benevolence which consists in lying on a sofa and cursing the church and clergy for not being martyrs and confessors. One can see, you know, very easily, how others ought to be martyrs.”

[to be continued.]


———

* These lines have been thus rather inadequately translated:

Think, oh, Jesus, for what reason
Thou endured’st earth’s spite and treason,
Nor me lose, in that dread season;
Seeking me, thy worn feet hasted;
On the cross, thy soul death tasted—
Let not all these toils be wasted.
[Back]

Notes

This Stowe Center edition reproduces the National Era serial text of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The wording of the newspaper in many cases differs from publisher John P. Jewett’s first edition. At the conclusion of each installment, notes are provided on a small selection of textual variants, those which have the greatest interpretive significance. The model for these notes is editor John Bryant’s concept of fluid-text editing, which foregrounds the interpretation of textual variants as an act of critical reading. Readers who hold alternate interpretations are encouraged to submit comments to the blog. For general comments on the text and the bibliography, see the Note on the Text.

Note 1

otherwise unmeaning cypress of time, | Era pg. 205
otherwise unmeaning ciphers of time, | Jewett (1852) vol. 2, pg. 124

In the Era, “another life,” the Christian afterlife, is an “unmeaning cypress of time.” In the Jewett edition, life has many “unmeaning ciphers,” one of which is “another life.” Both versions demand critical analysis of potential authorial meaning, but neither reading is obviously superior to the other as the text is ambiguous on which aspect of thought is attributed to St. Clare and which to the narrator.

In both the Era and the Jewett edition, the narrator concludes the summary of Augustine St. Clare’s thought in the previous paragraph. The new paragraph begins with “True…” before this site of textual alteration. In both versions, it appears initially that the thought is voiced by a third-person narrator on the assumption that the new paragraph signalled a switch from St. Clare’s thought to the narrator’s. However, in second sentence, the thought is attributed also to St. Clare, who “knew this well.” What, then, does St. Clare know? And does he know it on basis of proximity to Christian belief or on insight more characteristic of other signficiant Romantic thinkers?

The cypress stands traditionally for mourning, so to represent death metaphorically as an “unmeaning cypress” indicates that to mourn Eva’s death has no meaning for a Christian because her eternal afterlife renders mourning inconsequential. Recall Stowe’s metaphorical conceit at Eva’s death, that she “passed from death unto life!” (December 4, 1851). Stowe emphasizes what she presumably offers as a Christian truth that St. Clare knows at the level of intellect, but he does not believe this as a person of Christian faith. To the extent that St. Clare “knew this well,” he does so like another secular but incisive thinker who is associated with the Romantic movement, like Thomas Moore, George Gordon, Lord Byron, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (mentioned below).

In the Jewett edition, by contrast, “unmeaning ciphers” are mysteries or puzzles. Therefore, death to a non-Christian is an unsolvable riddle. Stowe, through her characterization of St. Clare’s thought, invites the Christian believer to recognize the intellectual attraction but theological inadequacy of the doctrine attributed to St. Clare and other Romantic thinkers. And she challenges the nonbeliever to consider St. Clare’s inability to travel the minimal distance between unbelief and belief. In the revised text, then, Stowe emphasizes the variant meanings of ciphers, sacred mysteries to the believer, unsolvable riddles to the nonbeliever.

Either version of the text demands exegesis, so neither is obviously faulty. Because of the tension between narrator’s voice and St. Clare’s thought, neither verison is obviously superior. See note 6 below, and also see December 11 installment, note 1, in which punctuation makes problematic the distinction between what St. Clare thinks and what narrator attributes to him. [Back]

Note 2

¶“No, no, mass’r! taint that—it’s bein a free | Era pg. 205
¶“No, no, Mas’r! ’tan’t that,—it ’s bein’ a free | Jewett (1852) vol. 2, pg. 126

In the Era, the spellings “mass’r” and “taint” reflect the usual serial forms, lower-case “mass’r” and Stowe’s manuscript spelling “taint” as a contraction for “it aint.” In the Jewett edition, the words “Mas’r” and “ ’tan’t” reflect the usual Jewett edition forms, upper-case “Mas’r” and the Jewett spelling “ ’tan’t” as the contraction for “it an’t.” The Jewett form “an’t” is slightly more respectable than Stowe’s manuscript and the serial form “aint.” The Jewett forms represent editorial smoothing to apply consistency. By the application of its regularized capitalization, the Jewett edition diminishes the possible insinuation in manuscript and serial form that the lower-case title “mass’r” or “masser” is subversive.

Finally, in the Era, unvoiced letters, such as terminal “g” in dialect pronunciation of “-ing”, are not marked with apostrophes in speech of Tom or of black characters generally. In the Jewett edition, the absence of terminal “g” in pronunciation is consistently marked by the apostrophe. These types of corrections are applied consistently when the Jewett text of this installment is set into type. [Back]

Note 3

that day comes,” said St. | Era pg. 205
that day comes?” said St. | Jewett (1852) vol. 2, pg. 127

In the Era, Augustine St. Clare makes a statement that extrapolates from Uncle Tom’s intent to delay his return home to the consequences of such a plan, an extension of the delay for an unknown period that depends on St. Clare’s possible conversion to Christianity. In the Jewett edition, St. Clare asks Tom a question about his intent. Similarly, below, St. Clare exclaims that a Christian “should have been a worker” if he recognizes the “struggles, agonies, and wrongs of man.” In the Jewett edition, by contrast, he asks an explicit question, “what shall be said….” In general, the Jewett edition punctuation is more explicit and more emphatic.

A similar contrast in punctuation in the Era and the Jewett edition marks the exchange between Topsy and Rosa, which Miss Ophelia and Augustine St. Clare interrupt. Six exclamation points are added to sentences between Topsy’s “go ’long, Miss Rosa,” and St. Clare’s “shall have them.” None are marked in the Stowe Center text. See Jewett edition, vol. 2, pages 129 and 130. [Back]

Note 4

was a woman that has a great | Era pg. 205
was a woman that had a great | Jewett (1852) vol. 2, pg. 128

In the Era, Marie St. Clare “has” the “faculty of making others unhappy.” Her ability exists in the narrative present. In the Jewett edition, Marie St. Clare “had” the faculty. Her ability is one of the qualities that mark her long history.

In both versions, the sentence opens with past tens—Marie “felt the loss”—and compares her experience of loss to a possibility expressed in the subjunctive mood—“as she could feel.” The serial form switches verb tense from past to present, and that switch could be considered an error. But the error is scarcely detectable because Stowe in the newspaper serial on occasion emphasizes the narrative present. [Back]

Note 5

her to you,” said Augustine. ¶“But | Era pg. 205
her to you,” said Augustine. ¶“But | Jewett (1852) vol. 2, pg. 130

In the Era, the italicized word “said” emphasizes the fact of Augustine St. Clare’s verbal gift of Topsy to Miss Ophelia. In the Jewett edition, the italicized “you” emphasizes Ophelia’s ownership of Topsy. Miss Ophelia insists that her ownership of Topsy be formalized in writing, so the serial setting highlights that aspect of the exchange. St. Clare mocks Ophelia for taking possession of a slave, so the Jewett edition italic highlights that aspect instead. [Back]

Note 6

off to auctioa, spite of | Era pg. 205
off to auction, spite of | Jewett (1852) vol. 2, pg. 131

In the Era, the form “auctioa” is an obvious error. The word is corrected to “auction” in the Jewett edition. The serial installment has three other obvious errors. First, Augustine St. Clare asks Miss Ophelia whether she thinks he shows signs of the yellow fever, but the Era lacks opening quotation marks before question begins with “Do you think….” An opening quotation mark has been added in the Stowe Center text. Second, when St. Clare considers the prospect of a Judgment day during which wrongs are righted, he is described as “stopping thoughfully.” The letter “t” is missing after the gh in “thoughtfully.” This error is corrected silently in the Stowe Center text. Third, the Latin word “Querens,” the Era form, is reproduced in initial printings of Jewett edition, but it is corrected to “Quærens” in printings after the 75th thousand. See Harry Earl Opperman, “A Bibliography and Stemma Codicum for British Editions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1852-53.” Ph.D. Diss. Kansas State University, 1971, 418. On the second error, intriguingly, the Jewett edition has an error just preceding: the name “St[.] Clare” lacks a period after the t (2: 136). A George C. Rand compositor may have overlooked the period in “St.” because attending to the correction of the serial error “thoughfully.” [Back]

Note 7

¶“When the son of man | Era pg. 205
¶“When the Son of man | Jewett (1852) vol. 2, pg. 133

The Era’s lower-case form “son” in reference to Jesus as the prophesied Messiah is altered to “Son” in the Jewett edition. However, below, the Era form with upper-case “King” in reference to the Messiah sitting in judgment is altered to lower-case “king” in the Jewett edition. Stowe shows a stronger preference for upper-case forms when referring to the Christian deity in the serial, but this exception to that rule could indicate that she or compositors may have been influenced by a Bible printing used for transcription of longer passages.

In a related matter, St. Clare refers to an “unanswerable Wisdom” (Era) or an “unanswerable wisdom” (Jewett edition). In the serial, St. Clare refers to the deity with the honorific title “Wisdom.” He presumably reflects his source, which attributes wisdom to God. In the Jewett edition, St. Clare refers to generic wisdom, which may be admirable but is not equivalent to that of the Christian deity. St. Clare, as a nonbeliever, could be implied either to not recognize a distinction or to be unwilling to answer the personal consequences that acceptance of belief would cause for him. Also see note 1 above and note 8 below. [Back]

Note 8

mean that I could not | Era pg. 206
mean that I could not | Jewett (1852) vol. 2, pg. 137

In the Era, Augustine St. Clare muses that a genuine Christianity would require him to work tirelessly against slavery as a system. Though he muses similarly in the Jewett edition, the italic “I” indicates that St. Clare is more emphatically insistent on the consequences of faith to himself personally. By the emphasis on self with the italicized pronoun in the Jewett edition, the possibility of St. Clare’s conversion to Christianity seems less likely. He remains aligned with narrator’s observation that some Romantic thinkers express noteworthy sentiments but resist Christian belief. See note 1 and note 7 above. [Back]

Copyright 2011. For introduction and annotation, all rights reserved. The text is distributed under a Creative Commons License. Creative Commons License Uncle Tom’s Cabin: National Era by Harriet Beecher Stowe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Copyright Commons License.

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