Uncle Tom's Cabin HTML version

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 ciphers 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