Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp

Harriet Beecher Stowe
Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Robert S. Levine
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 656
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Harriet Beecher Stowe's second antislavery novel was written partly in response to the criticisms ofUncle Tom's Cabin(1852) by both white Southerners and black abolitionists. InDred(1856), Stowe attempts to explore the issue of slavery from an African American perspective.Through the compelling stories of Nina Gordon, the mistress of a slave plantation, and Dred, a black revolutionary, Stowe brings to life conflicting beliefs about race, the institution of slavery, and the possibilities of violent resistance. Probing the political and spiritual goals that fuel Dred's rebellion, Stowe creates a figure far different from the acquiescent Christian martyr Uncle Tom.In his introduction to the classic novel, Robert S. Levine outlines the antislavery debates in which Stowe had become deeply involved before and during her writing ofDred. Levine shows that in addition to its significance in literary history, the novel remains relevant to present-day discussions of cross-racial perspectives.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0491-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-xxxii)
    Robert S. Levine

    As the great best seller of the 1850s, Harriet Beecher Stowe’sUncle Tom’s Cabin(1852) had a marked impact on debates on race and slavery in the United States during that decade and beyond. Its impact was and remains controversial. Abraham Lincoln may have admiringly told Stowe during the Civil War that she was “the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war,” but approximately one hundred years after the initial publication of her best-known antislavery novel, Stowe was castigated by the African American novelist and essayist James Baldwin for portraying black as the color of evil...

    (pp. xxxiii-xxxviii)
    (pp. xxxix-xl)
  6. Dred; A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp

    • Preface
      (pp. 3-4)
    • Volume I

      • CHAPTER I The Mistress of Canema
        (pp. 7-15)

        “BILLS, HARRY—Yes. Dear me, where are they?—There!—No. Here?—O, look!—What do you think of this scarf? Isn't it lovely?”

        “Yes, Miss Nina, beautiful—but—”

        “O, those bills!—Yes—well, here goes—here perhaps in this box. No—that's my opera-hat. By the by, what do you think of that? Isn't that bunch of silver wheat lovely? Stop a bit—you shall see it on me.”

        And, with these words, the slight little figure sprang up as if it had wings, and, humming a waltzing-tune, skimmed across the room to a looking-glass, and placed the jaunty...

      • CHAPTER II Clayton
        (pp. 16-25)

        The curtain rises on our next scene, and discovers a tranquil library, illuminated by the slant rays of the afternoon’s sun. On one side the room opened by long glass windows on to a garden, from whence the air came in perfumed with the breath of roses and honeysuckles. The floor covered with white matting, the couches and sofas robed in smooth glazed linen, gave an air of freshness and coolness to the apartment. The walls were hung with prints of the great master-pieces of European art, while bronzes and plastercasts, distributed with taste and skill, gave evidence of artistic...

      • CHAPTER III The Clayton Family and Sister Anne
        (pp. 26-34)

        The family party which was now ushered in, consisted of Clayton’s father, mother, and sister. Judge Clayton was a tall, dignified, elderly personage, in whom one recognized, at a glance, the gentleman of the old school. His hair, snowy white, formed a singular contrast with the brightness of his blue eyes, whose peculiar acuteness of glance might remind one of a falcon. There was something stately in the position of the head and the carriage of the figure, and a punctilious exactness in the whole air and manner, that gave one a slight impression of sternness. The clear, sharp blue...

      • CHAPTER IV The Gordon Family
        (pp. 35-51)

        A week or two had passed over the head of Nina Gordon since she was first introduced to our readers, and during this time she had become familiar with the details of her home life. Nominally, she stood at the head of her plantation, as mistress and queen in her own right of all, both in doors and out; but, really, she found herself, by her own youth and inexperience, her ignorance of practical details, very much in the hands of those she professed to govern.

        The duties of a southern housekeeper, on a plantation, are onerous beyond any amount...

      • CHAPTER V Harry and His Wife
        (pp. 52-66)

        Several miles from the Gordon estate, on an old and somewhat decayed plantation, stood a neat log cabin, whose external aspect showed both taste and care. It was almost enveloped in luxuriant wreaths of yellow jessamine, and garlanded with a magnificent lamarque rose, whose cream-colored buds and flowers contrasted beautifully with the dark, polished green of the finely-cut leaves.

        The house stood in an enclosure formed by a high hedge of the American holly, whose evergreen foliage and scarlet berries made it, at all times of the year, a beautiful object. Within the enclosure was a garden, carefully tended, and...

      • CHAPTER VI The Dilemma
        (pp. 67-76)

        In order to understand the occasion which hurried Harry home, we must go back to Canema. Nina, after taking her letters from the hands of Tomtit, as we have related, ran back with them into Mrs. Nesbit’s room, and sat herself down to read them. As she read, she evidently became quite excited and discomposed, crumpling a paper with her little hand, and tapping her foot impatiently on the carpet.

        “There, now, I’m sure I don’t know what I shall do, Aunt Nesbit!” addressing her aunt, because it was her outspoken habit to talk to any body or thing which...

      • CHAPTER VII Consultation
        (pp. 77-80)

        “O, Harry, I’m so glad to see you back! In such trouble as I’ve been to-day! Don’t you think, this very morning, as I was sitting in Aunt Nesbit’s room, Tomtit brought up these two letters; and one of them is from Clayton, and the other from Mr. Carson; and, now, see here what Clayton says: ‘I shall have business that will take me in your vicinity next week; and it is quite possible, unless I hear from you to the contrary, that you may see me at Canema next Friday or Saturday.’ Well, then, see here; there’s another from...

      • CHAPTER VIII Old Tiff
        (pp. 81-98)

        “I say, Tiff,doyou think he will come, to-night?”

        “Laws, laws, Missis, how can Tiff tell? I’s been a gazin’ out de do’. Don’t see nor hear nothin’.”

        “It’s so lonesome!—solonesome!—and the nights so long!”

        And the speaker, an emaciated, feeble little woman, turned herself uneasily on the ragged pallet where she was lying, and, twirling her slender fingers nervously, gazed up at the rough, unplastered beams above.

        The room was of the coarsest and rudest cast. The hut was framed of rough pine logs, filled between the crevices with mud and straw; the floor made...

      • CHAPTER IX The Death
        (pp. 99-103)

        Death is always sudden. However gradual may be its approaches, it is, in its effects upon the survivor, always sudden at last. Tiff thought, at first, that his mistress was in a fainting-fit, and tried every means to restore her. It was affecting to see him chafing the thin, white, pearly hands, in his large, rough, black paws; raising the head upon his arm, and calling in a thousand tones of fond endearment, pouring out a perfect torrent of loving devotion on the cold, unheeding ear. But, then, spite of all he could do, the face settled itself, and the...

      • CHAPTER X The Preparation
        (pp. 104-112)

        The excitement produced by the arrival of Tiff, and the fitting out of Milly to the cottage, had produced a most favorable diversion in Nina’s mind from her own especial perplexities.

        Active and buoyant, she threw herself at once into whatever happened to come uppermost on the tide of events. So, having seen the wagon despatched, she sat down to breakfast in high spirits.

        “Aunt Nesbit, I declare I was so interested in that old man! I intend to have the pony, after breakfast, and ride over there.”

        “I thought you were expecting company.”

        “Well, that's one reason, now, why...

      • CHAPTER XI The Lovers
        (pp. 113-124)

        They rode on in silence, till their horses’ feet again clattered in the clear, pebbly water of the stream. Here Nina checked her horse; and, pointing round the circle of pine forests, and up the stream, overhung with bending trees and branches, said:

        “Hush!—listen!” Both stopped, and heard the swaying of the pine-trees, the babble of the waters, the cawing of distant crows, and the tapping of the woodpecker.

        “How beautiful everything is!” she said. “It seems to me so sad that people must die! I never saw anybody dead before, and you don’t know how it makes me...

      • CHAPTER XII Explanations
        (pp. 125-139)

        The golden arrows of the setting sun were shooting hither and thither through the pine woods, glorifying whatever they touched with a life not its own. A chorus of birds were pouring out an evening melody, when a little company stood around an open grave. With instinctive care for the feeling of the scene, Nina had arrayed herself in a black silk dress, and plain straw bonnet with black ribbon—a mark of respect to the deceased remembered and narrated by Tiff for many a year after.

        Cripps stood by the head of the grave, with that hopeless, imbecile expression...

      • CHAPTER XIII Tom Gordon
        (pp. 140-155)

        “I say, Nina,” said her brother, coming in, a day or two after, from a survey that he had been taking round the premises, “you wantmehere to manage this place. Everything going at sixes and sevens;¹ and that nigger of a Harry riding round with his boots shining. That fellow cheats you, and feathers his own nest well. I know! These white niggers are all deceitful.”

        “Come, Tom, you know the estate is managed just as father left word to have it; and Uncle John says that Harry is an excellent manager. I’m sure nobody could have been...

      • CHAPTER XIV Aunt Nesbit’s Loss
        (pp. 156-164)

        On entering the house, Nina was met at the door by Milly, with a countenance of some anxiety.

        “Miss Nina,” she said, “your aunt has heard bad news, this morning.”

        “Bad news!” said Nina, quickly,—“what?”

        “Well, honey, ye see dere has been a lawyer here,” said Milly, following Nina as she was going up stairs; “and she has been shut up with him all de mornin’; and when he come out I found her taking on quite dreadful! And she says she has lost all her property.”

        “O! is that all?” said Nina. “I didn’t know what dreadful thing...

      • CHAPTER XV Mr. Jekyl’s Opinions
        (pp. 165-170)

        After the return of the gentlemen to the drawing-room, Nina, at the request of Tom, followed him and Mr. Jekyl into the library.

        “Mr. Jekyl is going to make some statements to us, Nina, about our property in Mississippi, which, if they turn out as he expects, will set us up in the world,” said Tom.

        Nina threw herself carelessly into the leathern arm-chair by the window, and looked out of it.

        “You see,” said Mr. Jekyl, also seating himself, and pulling out the stiff points of his collar, “having done law business for your father, and known, in that...

      • CHAPTER XVI Milly’s Story
        (pp. 171-184)

        Nina spent the evening in the drawing-room; and her brother, in the animation of a new pursuit, forgetful of the difference of the morning, exerted himself to be agreeable, and treated her with more consideration and kindness than he had done any time since his arrival. He even made some off-hand advances towards Clayton, which the latter received with good-humor, and which went further than she supposed to raise the spirits of Nina; and so, on the whole, she passed a more than usually agreeable evening. On retiring to her room, she found Milly, who had been for some time...

      • CHAPTER XVII Uncle John
        (pp. 185-195)

        About four miles east of Canema lay the plantation of Nina’s uncle, whither Harry had been sent on the morning which we have mentioned. The young man went upon his errand in no very enviable mood of mind. Uncle Jack, as Nina always called him, was the nominal guardian of the estate, and a more friendly and indulgent one Harry could not have desired. He was one of those joyous, easy souls, whose leading desire seemed to be thai everybody in the world should make himself as happy as possible, without fatiguing him with consultations as to particulars. His confidence...

      • CHAPTER XVIII Dred
        (pp. 196-202)

        Harry spent the night at the place of Mr. John Gordon, and arose the next morning in a very discontented mood of mind. Nothing is more vexatious to an active and enterprising person than to be thrown into a state of entire idleness; and Harry, after lounging about for a short time in the morning, found his indignation increased by every moment of enforced absence from the scene of his daily labors and interests. Having always enjoyed substantially the privileges of a freeman in the ability to regulate his time according to his own ideas, to come and go, to...

      • CHAPTER XIX The Conspirators
        (pp. 203-212)

        We owe our readers now some words of explanation respecting the new personage who has been introduced into our history; therefore we must go back somewhat, and allude to certain historical events of painful significance.

        It has been a problem to many, how the system of slavery in America should unite the two apparent inconsistencies of a code of slave-laws more severe than that of any other civilized nation, with an average practice at least as indulgent as any other; for, bad as slavery is at the best, it may yet be admitted that the practice, as a whole, has...

      • CHAPTER XX Summer Talk at Canema
        (pp. 213-223)

        In the course of a few days the family circle at Canema was enlarged by the arrival of Clayton’s sister; and Carson, in excellent spirits, had started for a Northern watering-place. In answer to Nina’s letter of invitation, Anne had come with her father, who was called to that vicinity by the duties of his profession. Nina received her with her usual gay frankness of manner; and Anne, like many others, soon found herself liking her future sister much better than she had expected. Perhaps, had Nina been in any other situation than that of hostess, her pride might have...

      • CHAPTER XXI Tiff’s Preparations
        (pp. 224-230)

        The announcement of the expected camp-meeting produced a vast sensation at Canema, in other circles beside the hall. In the servants’ department, everybody was full of the matter, from Aunt Katy down to Tomtit. The women were thinking over their available finery; for these gatherings furnish the negroes with the same opportunity of display that Grace Church¹ does to the Broadway belles. And so, before Old Tiff, who had brought the first intelligence to the plantation, had time to depart, Tomtit had trumpeted the news through all the cluster of negro-houses that skirted the right side of the mansion, proclaiming...

      • CHAPTER XXII The Worshippers
        (pp. 231-242)

        The camp-meeting is one leading feature in the American development of religion, peculiarly suited to the wide extent of country, and to the primitive habits which generally accompany a sparse population. Undoubtedly its general effects have been salutary. Its evils have been only those incident to any large gatherings, in which the whole population of a country are brought promiscuously together. As in many other large assemblies of worship, there are those who go for all sorts of reasons; some from curiosity, some from love of excitement, some to turn a penny in a small way of trade, some to...

      • CHAPTER XXIII The Camp-Meeting
        (pp. 243-270)

        The place selected for the camp-meeting was in one of the most picturesque portions of the neighborhood. It was a small, partiallycleared spot, in the midst of a dense forest, which stretched away in every direction, in cool, green aisles of checkered light and shade.

        In the central clearing, a sort of rude amphitheatre of seats was formed of rough-pine slabs. Around on the edges of the forest the tents of the various worshippers were pitched; for the spending of three or four days and nights upon the ground is deemed an essential part of the service. The same clear...

    • Volume II

      • CHAPTER I Life in the Swamps
        (pp. 273-279)

        Our readers will perhaps feel an interest to turn back with us, and follow the singular wanderings of the mysterious personage, whose wild denunciations had so disturbed the minds of the worshippers at the camp-meeting.

        There is a twilight-ground between the boundaries of the sane and insane, which the old Greeks and Romans regarded with a peculiar veneration. They held a person whose faculties were thus darkened as walking under the awful shadow of a supernatural presence; and, as the mysterious secrets of the stars only become visible in the night, so in these eclipses of the more material faculties...

      • CHAPTER II More Summer Talk
        (pp. 280-292)

        A glorious morning, washed by the tears of last night’s shower, rose like a bride upon Canema. The rain-drops sparkled and winked from leaf to leaf, or fell in showery diamonds in the breeze. The breath of numberless roses, now in full bloom, rose in clouds to the windows.

        The breakfast-table, with its clean damask, glittering silver, and fragrant coffee, received the last evening’s participants of the campmeeting in fresh morning spirits, ready to discuss, as an every-day affair, what, the evening before, they had felt too deeply, perhaps, to discuss.

        On the way home, they had spoken of the...

      • CHAPTER III Milly’s Return
        (pp. 293-297)

        The visit of Clayton and his sister, like all other pleasant things, had its end. Clayton was called back to his law-office and books, and Anne went to make some summer visits previous to her going to Clayton’s plantation of Magnolia Grove, where she was to superintend his various schemes for the improvement of his negroes.

        Although it was gravely insisted to the last that there was noengagementbetween Nina and Clayton, it became evident enough to all parties that only the name was wanting. The warmest possible friendship existed between Nina and Anne; and, notwithstanding that Nina almost...

      • CHAPTER IV The Trial
        (pp. 298-304)

        “Well, now,” said Frank Russel, to one or two lawyers with whom he was sitting, in a side-room of the courthouse at E., “look out for breakers! Clayton has mounted his war-horse, and is coming upon us, now, like leviathan from the rushes.”

        “Clayton is a good fellow,” said one of them. “I like him, though he doesn’t talk much.”

        “Good?” said Russel, taking his cigar from his mouth; “why, as the backwoodsmen say, he an’t nothing else! He is a great seventyfour pounder, charged to the muzzle with goodness! But, if he should be once fired off, I’m afraid...

      • CHAPTER V Magnolia Grove
        (pp. 305-318)

        Judge Clayton was not mistaken in supposing that his son would contemplate the issue of the case he had defended with satisfaction. As we have already intimated, Clayton was somewhat averse to the practice of the law. Regard for the feelings of his father had led him to resolve that he would at least give it a fair trial. His own turn of mind would have led him to some work of more immediate and practical philanthropy. He would much preferred to have retired to his own estate, and devoted himself, with his sister, to the education of his servants....

      • CHAPTER VI The Troubadour
        (pp. 319-330)

        About five o’clock in the evening, Nina and Anne amused themselves with setting a fancy tea-table on the veranda. Nina had gathered a quantity of the leaves of the live oak, which she possessed a particular faculty of plaiting in long, flat wreaths, and with these she garlanded the social round table, after it had been draped in its snowy damask, while Anne was busy arranging fruit in dishes with vine-leaves.

        “Lettice will be in despair, to-night,” said Anne, looking up, and smiling at a neatly-dressed brown mulatto girl, who stood looking on with large, lustrous eyes; “her occupation’s gone!”...

      • CHAPTER VII Tiff’s Garden
        (pp. 331-338)

        Would the limits of our story admit of it, we should gladly linger many days in the shady precincts of Magnolia Grove, where Clayton and Nina remained some days longer, and where the hours flew by on flowery feet; but the inevitable time and tide, which wait for no man, wait not for the narrator. We must therefore say, in brief, that when the visit was concluded, Clayton accompanied Nina once more to Canema, and returned to the circle of his own duties.

        Nina returned to her own estate, with views somewhat chastened and modified by her acquaintance with Anne....

      • CHAPTER VIII The Warning
        (pp. 339-343)

        In life organized as it is at the South, there are two currents;—one, the current of the master’s fortunes, feelings, and hopes; the other, that of the slave’s. It is a melancholy fact in the history of the human race, as yet, that there have been multitudes who follow the triumphal march of life only as captives, to whom the voice of the trumpet, the waving of the banners, the shouts of the people, only add to the bitterness of enthralment.

        While life to Nina was daily unfolding in brighter colors, the slave-brother at her side was destined to...

      • CHAPTER IX The Morning Star
        (pp. 344-349)

        Nina continued her visits to Tiff’s garden on almost every pleasant morning or evening. Tiff had always some little offering, either berries or flowers, to present, or a nice little luncheon of fish or birds, cooked in some mode of peculiar delicacy; and which, served up in sylvan style, seemed to have something of the wild relish of the woods. In return, she continued to read the story so interesting to him; and it was astonishing how little explanation it needed—how plain honesty of heart, and lovingness of nature, interpreted passages over which theologians have wrangled in vain. It...

      • CHAPTER X The Legal Decision
        (pp. 350-359)

        The time for the session of the Supreme Court had now arrived, and Clayton’s cause was to be reconsidered. Judge Clayton felt exceedingly chagrined, as the time drew near. Being himself the leading judge of the Supreme Court, the declaration of the bench would necessarily be made known through him.

        “It is extremely painful to me,” he said, to Mrs. Clayton, “to have this case referred to me; for I shall be obliged to reverse the decision.”

        “Well,” said Mrs. Clayton, “Edward must have fortitude to encounter the usual reverses of his profession. He made a gallant defence, and received...

      • CHAPTER XI The Cloud Bursts
        (pp. 360-370)

        The shadow of that awful cloud which had desolated other places now began to darken the boundaries of the plantation of Canema. No disease has ever more fully filled out the meaning of those awful words of Scripture, “The pestilence that walketh in darkness.”¹ None has been more irregular, and apparently more perfectly capricious, in its movements. During the successive seasons that it has been epidemic in this country, it has seemed to have set at defiance the skill of the physicians. The system of medical tactics which has been wrought out by the painful experience of one season seems...

      • CHAPTER XII The Voice in the Wilderness
        (pp. 371-374)

        Clayton was quietly sitting in his law-office, looking over and arranging some papers necessary to closing his business. A colored boy brought in letters from the mail. He looked them over rapidly; and, selecting one, read it with great agitation and impatience. Immediately he started, with the open letter crushed in his hand, seized his hat, and rushed to the nearest livery-stable.

        “Give me the fastest horse you have—one that can travel night and day!” he said. “I must ride for life or death!”

        And half an hour more saw Clayton in full speed on the road. By the...

      • CHAPTER XIII The Evening Star
        (pp. 375-382)

        The mails in the State of North Carolina, like the prudential arrangements in the slave states generally, were very little to be depended upon; and therefore a week had elapsed after the mailing of Nina’s first letter, describing the danger of her condition, before it was received by Clayton. During that time the fury of the shock which had struck the plantation appeared to have abated; and, while on some estates in the vicinity it was yet on the increase, the inhabitants of Canema began to hope that the awful cloud was departing from them. It was true that many...

      • CHAPTER XIV The Tie Breaks
        (pp. 383-389)

        Clayton remained at Canema several days after the funeral. He had been much affected by the last charge given him by Nina, that he should care for her people; and the scene of distress which he witnessed among them, at her death, added to the strength of his desire to be of service to them.

        He spent some time in looking over and arranging Nina’s papers. He sealed up the letters of her different friends, and directed them in order to be returned to the writers, causing Harry to add to each a memorandum of the time of her death....

      • CHAPTER XV The Purpose
        (pp. 390-396)

        It would be scarcely possible to describe the scene which Harry left in the library. Tom Gordon was for a few moments stunned by the violence of his fall, and Clayton and Mr. Jekyl at first did not know but he had sustained some serious injury; and the latter, in his confusion, came very near attempting his recovery, by pouring in his face the contents of the large ink-stand. Certainly, quite as appropriate a method, under the circumstances, as the exhortations with which he had deluged Harry. But Clayton, with more presence of mind, held his hand, and rang for...

      • CHAPTER XVI The New Mother
        (pp. 397-402)

        The cholera at length disappeared, and the establishment of our old friend Tiff proceeded as of yore. His chickens and turkeys grew to maturity, and cackled and strutted joyously. His corn waved its ripening flags in the September breezes. The grave of the baby had grown green with its first coat of grass, and Tiff was comforted for his loss, because, as he said, “he knowed he’s better off.” Miss Fanny grew healthy and strong, and spent many long sunny hours wandering in the woods with Teddy; or, sitting out on the bench where Nina had been wont to read...

      • CHAPTER XVII The Flight into Egypt
        (pp. 403-413)

        The once neat and happy cottage, of which Old Tiff was the guardian genius, soon experienced sad reverses. Polly Skinflint’s violent and domineering temper made her absence from her father’s establishment rather a matter of congratulation to Abijah. Her mother, one of those listless and inefficient women, whose lives flow in a calm, muddy current of stupidity and laziness, talked very little about it; but, on the whole, was perhaps better contented to be out of the range of Polly’s sharp voice and long arms. It was something of a consideration, in Abijah’s shrewd view of things, that Cripps owned...

      • CHAPTER XVIII The Clerical Conference
        (pp. 414-425)

        A few days found Clayton in the city of—, guest of the Rev. Dr. Cushing. He was a man in middle life; of fine personal presence, urbane, courtly, gentlemanly. Dr. Cushing was a popular and much-admired clergyman, standing high among his brethren in the ministry, and almost the idol of a large and flourishing church. A man of warm feelings, humane impulses, and fine social qualities, his sermons, beautifully written, and delivered with great fervor, often drew tears from the eyes of the hearers. His pastoral ministrations, whether at wedding or funeral, had a peculiar tenderness and unction. None...

      • CHAPTER XIX The Result
        (pp. 426-434)

        After the devotional services were over, Dr. Calker proceeded immediately with the business that he had in his mind. “Now, brother Cushing,” he said, “there never was any instrumentality raised up by Providence to bring in the latter day equal to the Presbyterian church in the United States of America. It is the great hope of the world; for here, in this country, we are trying the great experiment for all ages; and, undoubtedly, the Presbyterian church comes the nearest perfection of any form of organization possible to our frail humanity. It is the ark of the covenant for this...

      • CHAPTER XX The Slave’s Argument
        (pp. 435-444)

        On his return home, Clayton took from the post-office a letter, which we will give to our readers.

        “MR. CLAYTON: I am now an outcast. I cannot show my face in the world, I cannot go abroad by daylight; for no crime, as I can see, except resisting oppression. Mr. Clayton, if it were proper for your fathers to fight and shed blood for the oppression that came upon them, why isn’t it right for us? They had not half the provocation that we have. Their wives and families were never touched. They were not bought, and sold, and traded,...

      • CHAPTER XXI The Desert
        (pp. 445-452)

        There is no study in human nature more interesting than the aspects of the same subject seen in the points of view of different characters. One might almost imagine that there were no such thing as absolute truth, since a change of situation or temperament is capable of changing the whole force of an argument. We have been accustomed, even those of us who feel most, to look on the arguments for and against the system of slavery with the eyes of those who are at ease. We do not even know how fair is freedom, for we were always...

      • CHAPTER XXII Jegar Sahadutha
        (pp. 453-462)

        At twelve o’clock, that night, Harry rose from the side of his sleeping wife, and looked out into the darkness. The belt of forest which surrounded them seemed a girdle of impenetrable blackness. But above, where the tree-tops fringed out against the sky, the heavens were seen of a deep, transparent violet, blazing with stars. He opened the door, and came out. All was so intensely still that even the rustle of a leaf could be heard. He stood listening. A low whistle seemed to come from a distant part of the underwood. He answered it. Soon a crackling was...

      • CHAPTER XXIII Frank Russel’s Opinions
        (pp. 463-470)

        Clayton was still pursuing the object which he had undertaken. He determined to petition the legislature to grant to the slave the right of seeking legal redress in cases of injury; and, as a necessary step to this, the right of bearing testimony in legal action. As Frank Russel was candidate for the next state legislature, he visited him for the purpose of getting him to present such a petition.

        Our readers will look in on the scene, in a small retired back room of Frank’s office, where his bachelor establishment as yet was kept. Clayton had been giving him...

      • CHAPTER XXIV Tom Gordon’s Plans
        (pp. 471-475)

        Tom Gordon, in the mean while, had commenced ruling his paternal plantation in a manner very different from the former indulgent system. His habits of reckless and boundless extravagance, and utter heedlessness, caused his cravings for money to be absolutely insatiable; and, within legal limits, he had as little care how it was come by, as a highway robber. It is to be remarked that Tom Gordon was a worse slaveholder and master from the very facts of certain desirable qualities in his mental constitution; for, as good wine makes the strongest vinegar, so fine natures perverted make the worse...

      • CHAPTER XXV Lynch Law
        (pp. 476-488)

        The rays of the afternoon sun were shining through the fringy needles of the pines. The sound of the woodpecker reverberated through the stillness of the forest, answering to thousand woodland notes. Suddenly, along the distant path, a voice is heard singing, and the sound comes strangely on the ear through the dreamy stillness:

        “Jesus Christ has lived and died

        What is all the world beside?

        This to know is all I need,

        This to know is life indeed.

        Other wisdom seek I none

        Teach me this, and this alone:

        Christ for me has lived and died,

        Christ for me was...

      • CHAPTER XXVI More Violence
        (pp. 489-494)

        Clayton rose the next morning, and found his friends much better than he had expected after the agitation and abuse of the night before. They seemed composed and cheerful.

        “I am surprised,” he said, “to see that your wife is able to be up this morning.”

        “They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength,”¹ said father Dickson. “How often I have found it so! We have seen times when I and my wife have both been so ill that we scarcely thought we had strength to help ourselves; and a child has been taken ill, or some other...

      • CHAPTER XXVII Engedi
        (pp. 495-502)

        The question may occur to our readers, why a retreat which appeared so easily accessible to the negroes of the vicinity in which our story is laid, should escape the vigilance of hunters.

        In all despotic countries, however, it will be found that the oppressed party become expert in the means of secrecy. It is also a fact that the portion of the community who are trained to labor enjoy all that advantage over the more indolent portion of it which can be given by a vigorous physical system, and great capabilities of endurance. Without a doubt, the balance of...

      • CHAPTER XXVIII The Slave Hunt
        (pp. 503-507)

        Tom Gordon, for the next two or three days after his injury, was about as comfortable to manage as a wounded hyena. He had a thousand varying caprices every hour and moment; and now one and now another prevailed. The miserable girls who were held by him as his particular attendants were tormented by every species of annoyance which a restless and passionate man, in his impatience, could devise.

        The recent death of Milly’s mistress by the cholera had reduced her under Tom’s authority; and she was summoned now from her work every hour to give directions and advice, which,...

      • CHAPTER XXIX “All Over”
        (pp. 508-513)

        Clayton, at the time of the violent assault which we have described, received an injury upon the head which rendered him insensible.

        When he came to himself, he was conscious at first only of a fanning of summer breezes. He opened his eyes, and looked listlessly up into the blue sky, that appeared through the thousand leafy hollows of waving boughs. Voices of birds warbling and calling, like answering echoes, to each other, fell dreamily on his ear. Some gentle hand was placing bandages about his head; and figures of women, he did not recognize, moved whisperingly around him, tending...

      • CHAPTER XXX The Burial
        (pp. 514-518)

        The death of Dred fell like a night of despair on the hearts of the little fugitive circle in the swamps—on the hearts of multitudes in the surrounding plantations, who had regarded him as a prophet and a deliverer. He in whom they trusted was dead! The splendid, athletic form, so full of wild vitality, the powerful arm, the trained and keen-seeing eye, all struck down at once! The grand and solemn voice hushed, and all the splendid poetry of olden time, the inspiring symbols and prophetic dreams, which had so wrought upon his own soul, and with which...

      • CHAPTER XXXI The Escape
        (pp. 519-526)

        Clayton had not been an unsympathizing or inattentive witness of these scenes.

        It is true that he knew not the whole depth of the affair; but Harry’s letter and his own observations had led him, without explanation, to feel that there was a perilous degree of excitement in some of the actors in the scene before him, which, unless some escape-valve were opened, might lead to most fatal results.

        The day after the funeral, he talked with Harry, wisely and kindly, assuming nothing to himself on the ground either of birth or position; showing to him the undesirableness and hopelessness,...

      • CHAPTER XXXII Lynch Law Again
        (pp. 527-538)

        The reader next beholds Clayton at Magnolia Grove, whither he had fled to recruit his exhausted health and spirits. He had been accompanied there by Frank Russel.

        Our readers may often have observed how long habits of intimacy may survive between two persons who have embarked in moral courses, which, if pursued, must eventually separate them forever.

        For such is the force of moral elements, that the ambitious and self-seeking cannotalwayswalk with those who love good for its own sake. In this world, however, where all these things are imperfectly developed, habits of intimacy often subsist a long...

      • CHAPTER XXXIII Flight
        (pp. 539-545)

        The party of fugitives, which started for the North, was divided into two bands. Harry, Lisette, Tiff, and his two children, assumed the character of a family, of whom Harry took the part of father, Lisette the nurse, and Tiff the manservant.

        The money which Clayton had given them enabling them to furnish a respectable outfit, they found no difficulty in taking passage under this character, at Norfolk, on board a small coasting-vessel bound to New York.

        Never had Harry known a moment so full of joyous security as that which found him out at sea in a white-winged vessel,...

      • CHAPTER XXXIV Clear Shining After Rain
        (pp. 546-550)

        Clayton had occasion to visit New York on business.

        He never went without carrying some token of remembrance from the friends in his settlement to Milly, now indeed far advanced in years, while yet, in the expressive words of Scripture, “her eye was not dim, nor her natural force abated.”¹

        He found her in a neat little tenement in one of the outer streets of New York, surrounded by about a dozen children, among whom were blacks, whites, and foreigners. These she had rescued from utter destitution in the streets, and was giving to them all the attention and affection...

      • APPENDIX I Nat Turner’s Confessions
        (pp. 551-562)
      • APPENDIX II.
        (pp. 563-576)
      • APPENDIX III Church Action on Slavery
        (pp. 577-594)
    (pp. 595-616)