Uncle Tom's Cabin HTML version

"A young star! which shone
O'er life--too sweet an image, for such glass!
A lovely being, scarcely formed or moulded;
A rose with all its sweetest leaves yet folded."
The Mississippi! How, as by an enchanted wand, have its scenes been changed, since
Chateaubriand wrote his prose-poetic description of it,[1] as a river of mighty, unbroken
solitudes, rolling amid undreamed wonders of vegetable and animal existence.
[1] In Atala; or the Love and Constantcy of Two Savages in the Desert (1801) by
Francois Auguste Rene, Vicomte de Chateaubriand (1768-1848).
But as in an hour, this river of dreams and wild romance has emerged to a reality scarcely
less visionary and splendid. What other river of the world bears on its bosom to the ocean
the wealth and enterprise of such another country?--a country whose products embrace all
between the tropics and the poles! Those turbid waters, hurrying, foaming, tearing along,
an apt resemblance of that headlong tide of business which is poured along its wave by a
race more vehement and energetic than any the old world ever saw. Ah! would that they
did not also bear along a more fearful freight,--the tears of the oppressed, the sighs of the
helpless, the bitter prayers of poor, ignorant hearts to an unknown God--unknown, unseen
and silent, but who will yet "come out of his place to save all the poor of the earth!"
The slanting light of the setting sun quivers on the sea-like expanse of the river; the
shivery canes, and the tall, dark cypress, hung with wreaths of dark, funereal moss, glow
in the golden ray, as the heavily-laden steamboat marches onward.
Piled with cotton-bales, from many a plantation, up over deck and sides, till she seems in
the distance a square, massive block of gray, she moves heavily onward to the nearing
mart. We must look some time among its crowded decks before we shall find again our
humble friend Tom. High on the upper deck, in a little nook among the everywhere
predominant cotton-bales, at last we may find him.
Partly from confidence inspired by Mr. Shelby's representations, and partly from the
remarkably inoffensive and quiet character of the man, Tom had insensibly won his way
far into the confidence even of such a man as Haley.
At first he had watched him narrowly through the day, and never allowed him to sleep at
night unfettered; but the uncomplaining patience and apparent contentment of Tom's
manner led him gradually to discontinue these restraints, and for some time Tom had
enjoyed a sort of parole of honor, being permitted to come and go freely where he
pleased on the boat.