The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XIII. Later Essayists

§ 14. Mrs. Stowe

To this trio of noble women—Margaret Fuller, Julia Ward Howe, Emma Lazarus—there should be added the name of Harriet Beecher Stowe (1812–96), who, like Hale with his one great story, and Julia Ward Howe with her one great poem, is remembered on account of her one great novel. Uncle Tom’s Cabin has thrown her essays into the shade, where their existence remains unknown to the large majority of presentday readers. Yet those who love to have recourse to old pages of The Atlantic Monthly find her an essayist of charm and range. Her House and Home Papers, published under the pseudonym of Christopher Crowfield, wherein the father of the family discusses all manner of domestic topics, have their keynote in the thought that whereas to keep a house is a practical affair “in the region of weights, measure, colour… to keep a home lies not merely in the sphere of all these, but it takes in the intellectual, the social, the spiritual, the immortal.” The relationship of parents to children, and the nature of childhood itself; the servant question; matters of house decoration; the inherited predilections of Aunt Mehitable, with her “scrupulous lustrations of every pane of glass”; discussions concerning education, hospitality, pastimes; helpful considerations regarding the temptations that assail human nature, are all mingled in a sane atmosphere of simplicity and true worth which embraces, but in no Puritan spirit, the quietly heroical approach to life, the desire not only to enjoy but the willingness also “to encounter labour and sacrifice.”