Eliza Crossing the River
by HARRIET BEECHER STOWE (1811-1894)
From her resting-place by the trader chased,
Through the winter evening cold,
Eliza came with her boy at last,
Where a broad deep river rolled.
Great blocks of the floating ice were there,
And the water’s roar was wild,
But the cruel trader’s step was near,
Who would take her only child.
Poor Harry clung around her neck,
But a word he could not say,
For his very heart was faint with fear,
And with flying all that day.
Her arms about the boy grew tight,
With a loving clasp, and brave;
“Hold fast! Hold fast, now, Harry dear,
And it may be God will save.”
From the river’s bank to the floating ice
She took a sudden bound,
And the great block swayed beneath her feet
With a dull and heavy sound.
[Uncle Tom’s Cabin] appeared … when not only the United States but the whole civilized world was deeply interested in the problem of slavery. Mrs. Stowe attacked the institution, not the people who maintained it. She took great pains to picture the pleasantest side of slavery, while also depicting its darkest, and her own impression was that her Abolitionist friends would reject the book as inadequate, and that the South would hail it as a just treatment of the question. Exactly the reverse happened. The scenes of terrible cruelty in the course of the tale offended the South, whereas the Abolitionists everywhere were delighted. But the amazing success of the work depended undoubtedly on something more than interest in the local problem, for it went quickly into more than twenty languages, including Armenian, Chinese, and Japanese…. The story appeared first as a serial in the Abolitionist weekly, The National Era, published in Washington. Only the merest fragment of the work was written when the first instalment [sic] appeared, and Mrs. Stowe completed it week by week, writing in the intervals of household duties, for nearly a year. When it was in book form the presses could not supply copies fast enough to meet the demand. from Author’s Digest: The World’s Great Stories in Brief (pg 134), by Rossiter Johnson (1908)