Harriet beecher stowe – uncle tom’s cabin (volume i)



In Which the Reader Is Introduced to a Man of Humanity

Late in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were
Sitting alone over their wine, in a well-furnished dining parlor, in
The town of P – – , in Kentucky. There were no servants present, and the
Gentlemen, with chairs closely approaching, seemed to be discussing some
Subject with great earnestness.

For convenience sake, we have said, hitherto, two _gentlemen_. One of
The parties, however, when critically examined, did not seem, strictly
Speaking, to come under the species. He was a short, thick-set man,
With coarse, commonplace features, and that swaggering air of pretension
Which marks a low man who is trying to elbow his way upward in the
World. He was much over-dressed, in a gaudy vest of many colors, a blue
Neckerchief, bedropped gayly with yellow spots, and arranged with a
Flaunting tie, quite in keeping with the general air of the man. His
Hands, large and coarse, were plentifully bedecked with rings; and he
Wore a heavy gold watch-chain, with a bundle of seals of portentous
Size, and a great variety of colors, attached to it, – which, in the
Ardor of conversation, he was in the habit of flourishing and jingling
With evident satisfaction. His conversation was in free and easy
Defiance of Murray’s Grammar,* and was garnished at convenient intervals
With various profane expressions, which not even the desire to be
Graphic in our account shall induce us to transcribe.

* English Grammar (1795), by Lindley Murray (1745-1826), the
most authoritative American grammarian of his day.

His companion, Mr. Shelby, had the appearance of a gentleman; and the
Arrangements of the house, and the general air of the housekeeping,
Indicated easy, and even opulent circumstances. As we before stated,

Two were in the midst of an earnest conversation.

“That is the way I should arrange the matter,” said Mr. Shelby.

“I can’t make trade that way – I positively can’t, Mr. Shelby,” said the
Other, holding up a glass of wine between his eye and the light.

“Why, the fact is, Haley, Tom is an uncommon fellow; he is certainly
Worth that sum anywhere, – steady, honest, capable, manages my whole farm
Like a clock.”

“You mean honest, as niggers go,” said Haley, helping himself to a glass
Of brandy.

“No; I mean, really, Tom is a good, steady, sensible, pious fellow. He
Got religion at a camp-meeting, four years ago; and I believe he
Really _did_ get it. I’ve trusted him, since then, with everything I
Have, – money, house, horses, – and let him come and go round the country;
And I always found him true and square in everything.”

“Some folks don’t believe there is pious niggers Shelby,” said Haley,
With a candid flourish of his hand, “but _I do_. I had a fellow, now,
In this yer last lot I took to Orleans – ‘t was as good as a meetin, now,
Really, to hear that critter pray; and he was quite gentle and quiet
Like. He fetched me a good sum, too, for I bought him cheap of a man
That was ‘bliged to sell out; so I realized six hundred on him. Yes, I
Consider religion a valeyable thing in a nigger, when it’s the genuine
Article, and no mistake.”

“Well, Tom’s got the real article, if ever a fellow had,” rejoined the
Other. “Why, last fall, I let him go to Cincinnati alone, to do business
For me, and bring home five hundred dollars. ‘Tom,’ says I to him,
‘I trust you, because I think you’re a Christian – I know you wouldn’t

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Harriet beecher stowe – uncle tom’s cabin (volume i)