Mississippi Department of Archives and History - Archives and Library Division Catalog

 Basic Search
Stone Collection: Volume 49 - Item 5
 Advanced Search Online Archives Help 

Alfred H. Stone Collection
Volume: 49

5. Ann S. Stephens, Victor Hugo’s Letter on John Brown with Mrs. Ann S. Stephens’ Reply (New York: Irwin P. Beadle & Co., 1860). (24 p.)

Disputation of the romanticized characterization of John Brown’s insurrection at Harper’s Ferry expressed in a letter by a well-known French novelist. The disputer begins her response as follows. “Sir,--Your [Victor Hugo’s] letter to the London Star has found its way into the American press, for which it was doubtless intended. If ardent enthusiasm could win justice from her strict course, yours might have had some effect upon the destiny of John Brown. But all the eloquence of genius cannot take the blackness from treason, or the crimson stain from murder. It requires something more than an outburst of fine poetry to turn crime into patriotism—something more than impetuous denunciations to check the solemn footsteps of justice. . . . I look beyond all this [scenes of John Brown’s hanging]—far away into the beautiful South—and instead of an old man on the gallows, I see thousands of my own countrywomen, gentle, good and lovely, given up a prey to wild insurrection; I see those murderous pikes, manufactured with such cruel forethought, piercing their bosoms; I hear the cries of children calling for the mothers who will never answer them again; I see proud, strong men struggling against the brute strength of their own household servants. This picture strikes my compassion dumb, and I can only cover my face and pray God to have mercy on the old man’s soul!”