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Full text of ""Uncle Remus," Joel Chandler Harris as seen and remembered by a few of his friends : including a memorial sermon by the Rev. James W. Lee, D.D., and a poem by Frank Stanton"

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At 85 Cedar St. ,New York.January 4th,190a 

dear Nelson: 

I want to congratulate you personally on the beautiful job 
your house did on ray "Uncle Remus" book. It was very pleasant 
indeed to have a job of this kind go through so smoothly and satis- 

I take pleasure in sending herewith two copies of the book: 
one of them for yourself personally which I hope you will accept 
with my compliments and the other one for Prof. Brander Matthews. 
I hope that Prof. Matthews will add this to his library and also that 
he will find it possible to read it. 

A great many interesting letters concerning the book have 
been received by me, and some day I will let you see them. I believe 
you will be gratified to knor what these letters state about the 

Wishing you all prosperity through the coming year, I am 

Sincerely and fraternally yours, 

Mr. Nelson Macy, 

441 Pearl St. , 

New York City. 





tTV-) < 






" / am merely a simple-minded old fellow ivho is very anxious for a few 
chosen friends to like him. Many children and a great many dogs are fond of me, 
and that is a good test.'' JOEL CHANDLKR HARRIS, in a letter to a friend. 


Joel Chandler Harris as Seen and 

Remembered by a Few 

of His Friends 

Including a Memorial Sermon by the 

Eev. James W. Lee. D. D., 

nd a Poem by 

Frank L. Stanton 

Privately Printed 
Christmas, 10O8 








BY REV. J. W. LEE ... . . . . . 88 


BY FRANK L. STANTON . . . . . . .119 




JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS ... . . . Frontispiece 

Uncle Remus' Idea of Christmas . . . . . . 18 

Where Joel Chandler Harris was Born 19 

Grounds Surrounding His Childhood Home .... 21 

Church Where He Attended Sunday School .... 28 

Advertisement which Started Him to Work .... 27 

Printing Office of "The Countryman" . . . . . 29 

First Page of "The Countryman" 81 

View from Printing Shop Window . . . . . . 38 

Another View from Printing Shop Window .... 85 

House Where Harris Lived at Turnwold ..... 39 

A Contemporary of "Uncle Remus" 41 

A Surviving Daughter of "Uncle Remus" . . . . 48 

A Negro Cabin on Turner Plantation f .... 45 

Fac-simile of Harris' First Poetry 49 

Mr. and Mrs. Harris and Grandchildren ..... 58 

"Uncle Remus," as an Artist Idealized Him .... 57 

Some of Harris' Original Manuscript 59 

Harris Family at Snap Bean Farm ...... 63 

Side View of the Harris Home ....... 67 

Title Page of "Uncle Remus Magazine" ..... 71 

Veranda of Home at Snap Bean Farm ..... 75 

Joel Chandler Harris at Sixteen Years of Age .... 85 

At Twenty-one Years of Age 89 



At Twenty-four Years of Age . . . . . . .93 

Harris, Grady, E still and Roberts . . . . . . 95 

At Thirty-four Years of Age . . . . . . . 97 

At Forty-one Years of Age .101 

Andrew Carnegie and Joel Chandler Harris . . . .103 

Evan P. Howell and Joel Chandler Harris . . . .109 

Harris at Fifty-seven Years of Age . . .. .. 115 


Ftt-imile of Intcription by Jotl Chandltr Harrit in a copy of "Untie Rtmui, Hit 
Songt and Hit Sayingi," presented to Horace R. B. Allen, 
tf New Y"rk, Cbriamat, 


I HE purpose of this volume is to introduce 
a few friends to the great fund of geni- 
ality and good cheer which was wrapped 
up in the personality of Joel Chandler 
Harris. He was one of those rare beings 
in whom the most perfect humor was personified and 
from whom it was continually exhaled, and his life and 
writings have added delights innumerable to both child- 
hood and manhood. This little book also embodies the 
hope and belief that many coming generations will find 
in "Uncle Remus" that same inexhaustible storehouse 
of quaint philosophy and homely humor which this de- 
lightful character has been to so large a company for 
now more than thirty years. 

These lines are written with the memory of having 
heard the Uncle Remus stories read in earliest child- 
hood, and of having enjoyed the acquaintance of Joel 
Chandler Harris personally. He was always most 
natural to those who knew least of his genius. So 
all the children with whom he came in contact seemed to 
find in him a kindred spirit. Strangers who went to 
see him found him difficult to know, but with children he 
was always at perfect ease. 

There is no pretense of literary finish in these pages. 
The idea has been merely to record the essential facts of 
Joel Chandler Harris' life and to relate a few personal 
memories of him, largely in the language of his own 
friends. I have also been privileged to reproduce a con- 
siderable number of hitherto unpublished photographs 

16 Memories of Uncle Remus 

of Harris most interesting human documents. In 
this effort I have had the very friendly co-operation of 
the Harris family, and I am especially indebted to Mrs. 
Joel Chandler Harris for the loan of some very rare 
pictures. The management of the Uncle Remus Maga- 
zine have been particularly obliging, and to their cour- 
tesy is to be credited the opportunity to reprint the 
poem by Grantland Rice. Messrs. D. Appleton & Co., 
publishers of the Uncle Remus books, have kindly 
allowed the use of the "Brer Rabbit" cut on the cover. 

The Memorial Sermon, which is included in this 
volume, was delivered on the evening of Mr. Harris' 
burial by a close personal friend. Dr. Lee was one of 
that coterie of genial men Joel Chandler Harris, 
Henry W. Grady, Frank L. Stanton, Clark Howell, 
Evan P. Howell, Wallace P. Reed, Sam. W. Small, 
and James W. Lee to whom for many years the edi- 
torial rooms of the Atlanta Constitution were the scene 
of such infinite good fellowship. 

To Mr. Frank L. Stanton I am indebted for the 
privilege of re-publishing the beautiful elegy in mem- 
ory of his friend, which will be found at the close of 
this book. I hope sincerely that the lines herein printed 
will in some measure serve to develop added interest 
in the life and work of Joel Chandler Harris one of 
the few Southern authors who can be called truly great. 
Besides being great, he was one of the most lovable 
of men, and if these pages make this human side of the 
man better known, they will have been well worth the 
effort. IVY L. LEE. 

New York, December 1, 1908. 


|OT many men have lived such a life as did 
Joel Chandler Harris: He was born in 
11849, in the quiet town of Eatonton, Put- 
|nam County, Georgia. It was a simple, 
[old-fashioned slave-holding community, 
surrounded by little or nothing of romance. His father 
was a farmer, and he died while the child was still an 
infant. The mother was very poor, and the boy was 
probably the least noticed youngster of the neighbor- 

Some of Joel Chandler Harris' childhood playmates 
still live in the old town of Eatonton. One of them, 
Charles A. Leonard, knew the boy as a very young 
child, and I have asked Mr. Leonard to relate what he 
remembers of that early period. 

"He was such a clever little boy," writes Mr. Leon* 
ard, "that my parents would allow me to go around with 
him, I being a stranger in the town. Our playground 
was divided between the 'Big Gully,' and Mr. McDade's 
livery stable. In the stable were fine horses, and 'The 
Gully,' with its tributaries, was a good place to play 
hide-and-seek in. At the stable we oftentimes had the 
privilege of riding the horses to the shop to have them 
shod, and when the drovers came, as a special treat we 
were allowed to exercise the horses. 

"Between the stable and the 'Big Gully' lived an old 
free negro named Aunt 'Betsy Cuthbert', whose abilities 

18 Memories of Uncle Remus 

in making potato biscuit, ginger cakes, and chicken pies 
could hardly be equalled. There we often remained 
while she dispensed the good things she made. 

"We entered the school taught by Miss Kate David- 
son, where there was little play, except recess. It seemed 
then they taught from sun up to sun down, with the 
exception of a recess for dinner. After a year or two, 
we entered the male academy. It was not long before 
we made a good friend of one of the larger boys whom I 
will call, as we did, Hut Adams, and when out of school 
we were boon companions, playing marbles, jumping 
holes, and enjoying similar amusements. The things 
that Hut did we thought were right, even to foraging 
on Mr. Edmund Reid's watermelon patch, as well as 
Col. Nicholson's and Aunt Becky Pike's plum and peach 
orchards just enough for us to eat. 

"We organized what was known as the 'Gully Min- 
strels.' Our hall was the 'Big Gully.' Hut was man- 
ager, I was treasurer, and Joe the clown, with a fiddle 
he couldn't play. But he would make a noise that would 
bring down the house. The price of admission was ten 
pins, and it was not long before the treasurer was stuck 
on pins, ancTno exchange. 

"Hut, at about that time became the happy possessor 
of a shot gun in which Joe and I were as happy as he. 
Nearly every Saturday we would be off for the fields 
OP woods, Joe's and my part being to carry the game 
and get a chance to shoot just once when the hunt was 
over. Besides his love for hunting nothing gave Joe 
more delight than to play pranks on us and many were 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 


Canning Factor? in F.atonton, Ga. , "which stands on the site of tht house in which 
e/ Chandler Harris was born. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 


Vina of the grtundi surrounding the simple home in Eatenton, Ga . , "where 
Joel Chandler Harris was born. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 23 

Methodist Church in Eatonton, Ga,, ivbere Joel Chandler Harris attended 
Sunday School ivhen a child. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 25 

they, he always getting the best of it, and enjoying it to 
the full extent." 

It will thus be seen that Joe Harris was a natural 
boyish boy. But life was a very serious matter those 
war-time days, and the years that could be devoted to 
school were but few. The next step in Harris' life is told 
in his own words in an interview he gave to the Atlanta, 
Georgia, News, a few years before he died, as follows: 

"There came a time when I had to be up and doing, 
as the poet says, arid it so happened that I was in the 
post office at Eatonton reading the Milledgeville papers 
when the first number of The Countryman was deposited 
on the counter where all the newspapers were kept. I 
read it through and came upon an advertisement which 
announced that the Editor wanted a boy to learn the 
printer's trade. This was my opportunity, and I seized 
it with both hands. I wrote to the Editor, whom I knew 
well, and the next time he came to town he sought me 
out, asked if I had written the letter with my own hand, 
and in three words the bargain was concluded." 

The first number of that curious publication, The 
Countryman, appeared on March 4th, 1862. The adver- 
tisement, inserted along with others seeking to sell 
"Hats" and merchandise generally, was as follows: 


An active, intelligent white boy, 14 or 15 years 
of age, is wanted at this office, to learn the printing 
business. March 4th, 1862. 

This advertisement appeared again in the issue of 
The Countryman for March llth, but was omitted from 

26 Memories of Uncle Remus 

the issue for March 18th. Joel Chandler Harris, then, 
had found his "opportunity," about this date. Whether 
or not the "hats" were sold, a genius had been discovered 
by this backwoods publication. 

"The Countryman," said Harris in later years, "had 
no predecessor and no other paper has succeeded it. It 
stands solitary and alone among newspapers. It was 
published nine miles from any post office, on the planta- 
tion of Mr. Joseph A. Turner. On the roof of the print- 
ing office the squirrels scampered about, and the blue 
jays brought their acorns there to crack them. I used 
to sit in the dusk and see the shadows of all the great 
problems of life flitting about, restless and uneasy, and 
I had time to think about them. What some people call 
loneliness was to me a great blessing, and the printer's 
trade, so far as I learned it, was in the nature of a lib- 
eral education; and, as if that wasn't enough, Mr. 
Turner had a large private library, containing all of the 
best books. It was especially rich in the various depart- 
ments of English literature, and it would have been the 
most wonderful thing in the world if, with nothing to do 
but set a column or so of type each day, I had failed to 
take advantage of the library with its remarkable assort- 
ment of good books. 

"Mr. Turner was a man of varied accomplishments. 
He was a lawyer, a scholar and a planter. He had a 
large plantation and he managed it successfully; he had 
a considerable law practice ; and he was one of the most 
public spirited men in middle Georgia. He was a man 
of strong individuality; he had pronounced views on all 
the questions of the day. I once heard him preach a 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 


. fe 


Joel Chandler Harris the Man 29 

Printing Office at Turnivold, Ga., ivhtr "The Countryman" ivas puhliihed. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 





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Foe-simile of title page uf the first number of ii fhc Countryman^ for which 
Joel Chandler Harris helped set the type. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 


Outlook from the voindotui of the old Turnivold printing office. Scene of 
Joel Chandler Harris' early life. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 35 

Another "vitiu of the Turner Plantation from ?vindo-zvs of the printing office of tl Tke 
Countryman " ibo-iving hotu nearby tvere the '' 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 37 

sermon, and it was a good one, too. He was a good 
writer and he had a fine taste in literature; best of all, 
so far as I was concerned, he took an abiding interest 
in my welfare, gave me good advice, directed my read- 
ing and gave me the benefit of his wisdom and experi- 
ence at every turn and on all occasions. For the rest, I 
got along as any boy would. I was fond of setting type, 
and when my task was over I'd hunt or fish or read. 
And then at night I used to go to the negro cabins and 
hear their songs and stories. It was a great time 
for me." 

Joel Chandler Harris' "opportunity" then was to 
set type in a country printing office, to live with the 
family of the proprietor, and to listen at night to negro 
stories the same stories which Southern children every- 
where had been hearing for generations. Surely not a 
prospect yet of developing a man whose genius would 
attract the attention of the English-speaking world! 

J. A. Turner was a most unusual man. His library 
was unique among those of the other Southern planters 
of his countryside. As it was among those books that 
Joel Chandler Harris used to browse, as it was there he 
inhaled that fine literary taste which was to add so much 
richness to his Art in later years, it is of interest to in- 
quire just what this library consisted of. In response to 
questions on this subject, J. A. Turner's son, Mr. W. L. 
Turner, of Eatonton, very kindly gives this information : 

"My father's library has been divided among his 
heirs, and is greatly scattered, but from recollection and 
the volumes that I own, I can give an incomplete list of 
the authors he owned: Shakespeare, Moore, Byron, 

38 Memories of Uncle Remus 

Cooper, Burns, Swift, Shelley, Goldsmith, Hood, 
Wordsworth, Milton, Tasso, Scott, Bulwer, Holmes, 
Dickens, Hugo, Ballin, Macaulay, Hume, Arabian 
Nights, Gil Bias, Grimm's Fairy Tales, Mrs. 
Hemans, Junius Letters, Willis, Clarke, Bryant, as well 
as several works on Ornithology, and a number of ency- 
clopedias. His library contained about 1000 volumes." 
The owner of those books was also the possessor of a 
spirit of most unusual qualities. The few files of The 
Countryman which are still extant disclose them on every 
page. Possibly the reader of this may get a little of their 
flavor from this valedictory published in the final num- 
ber of the paper, issued in the autumn of 1866: 


"When The Countryman was established, I was a 
Southern planter, the highest type of man, as I conceive 
it, that the world has ever produced. God, through the 
severe chastisement of war, has made me no longer a 
Southern planter. This type of man has forever passed 
away. I have a home and a country no longer. Living 
in the spot where I always did, I am nevertheless an 
exile and a wanderer. The independent country life and 
the home of the planter are gone forever, and The Coun- 
tryman goes with them farewell." 

It was among such surroundings that the genius of 
Joel Chandler Harris was nourished. Among the trees, 
the flowers, the birds, the rabbits, and the squirrels, he 
found himself. The raw material with which he was 
to build his stories in later years he found amongst the 
slaves all about him. The character of "Uncle Remus" 
itself was composite. The original was, in most re- 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 39 

Front flew of the Turner Plantation Homestead. Joel Chandler Harris occupied 
the second story left corner room "while be ivorked on " The Countryman." 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 

A contanporary tf George Terrell, the original " Uncle Remus," illustrating tht 
type of man w^ impired the folk sttriet of Joel Chandler Harris. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 


A surviving daughter of George Terrell. She is noiv eighty years of age and 
lives in Eatonton, Ga. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 

The only negro cabin yet remaining of those -which stood on the Turner plantation 
when Joel Chandler Harris lived there and absorbed his fund of negro folk-lore. 
The negroes are descendants of the Turner slaves "befo' de ivab." 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 47 

spects, "Ole Uncle" George Terrell, a negro owned, 
before the war, by Mr. J. A. Turner. The "little old 
log cabin" where George Terrell lived was still standing 
until a few years ago, but has recently been torn down. 
Descendants of this amiable individual yet remain, and 
one of his contemporaries, a type of his kind, so bent 
and crippled that it is hard to tell whether he is man 
or beast, still hobbles about the town. 

In the ancient days, "Uncle" George Terrell owned 
an old-fashioned Dutch oven. On this he made most 
wonderful ginger cakes every Saturday. He would sell 
these cakes and persimmon beer, also of his own brew, 
to children of planters for miles around. He was accus- 
tomed to cook his own supper on this old oven every 
evening; and it was at twilight, by the light of that 
kitchen fire that he told his quaint stories to the Turner 
children and at the same time to Joel Chandler Harris. 
Men now, who were boys then, still relate their joy at 
listening to the story of the "Wonderful Tar Baby" as 
they sat in front of that old cabin, munching ginger 
cakes while "Uncle" George Terrell was cooking supper 
on his Dutch oven. 

Another prototype of the original Uncle Remus was 
"Uncle" Bob Capers, a negro owned by the well-known 
Capers family, and hired out by them as teamster for the 
Eatonton cotton factory. Joel Harris, before he went 
to Turn-wold to set type for The Countryman, lived 
with his mother near the home of that rare old darkey, 
and it was from his lips that there fell many of the won- 
derful tales that delighted the children of the neigh- 

48 Memories of Uncle Remus 

Although but a mere youth, Harris very early "burst 
into print." He wrote many anonymous articles for The 
Countryman, but the first compositions to which he 
signed his name were brief paragraphs. The first poem 
to which his name was signed, appeared in The Country- 
man dated September 27, 1864, when Harris was a little 
more than fifteen years old. It was as follows : 


(Written for The Countryman) 


The autumn moon rose calm and clear, 

And nearly banished night, 
While I with trembling foot-steps went 

To part with Nelly White. 

I thought to leave her but a while, 

And, in the golden west, 
To seek the fortune that should make 

My darling Nelly blest. 

For I was of the humble poor, 

Who knew that love, though bold 

And strong and firm within itself, 
Was stronger bound in gold. 

And when I knelt at Mammon's shrine, 

An angel ever spake 
Approvingly since what I did, 

I did for Nelly's sake. 

Again I neared the sacred spot, 

Where she and I last met, 
With merry laugh, does Nelly come 

To meet her lover yet? 

Again the moon rose in the sky, 

And gave a fitful light, 
Which shone with dreary gleam upon 

The grave of Nelly White. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 


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Fac-simile of page of "The Countryman" for September 2f t 1864, containing the first 
verse to which Joel Chandler Harris signed his name. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 51 

Turn-wold was in the direct path of Sherman's 
"March to the Sea," and it was that famous event which 
proved to be a turning point in the life of Joel Chandler 
Harris. General Slocum's staff enjoyed the hospitality 
of Mr. Turner's plantation for several days, and when 
they marched on, there wasn't much left. Young Har- 
ris now felt that the time had come for him to "move 
on" in the world. Accordingly, in 1865, he moved to 
Macon, Ga., where he worked for a short time. Later 
he found employment at New Orleans, La., but not long 
afterward, he returned to Georgia, and lived for a time 
at Forsyth. 

The year 1868 found Joel Chandler Harris on the 
editorial staff of the Savannah, Ga., News. His em- 
ployer was W. T. Thompson, author of "Major Jones' 
Courtship," and other humorous books. During the 
years 1869 and 1870, Mr. Harris had Frank L. Stanton 
as an office boy. While in Savannah, Harris married 
Miss Essie LaRose, of Canadian birth, with whom he 
lived until he died. Together they established a home, 
and as long as he lived that particular place where she 
was. was the most attractive on earth to Joel Chandler 

Nine children blessed the union, of whom six are still 
living Julian, now succeeding his father as Editor 
of the Uncle Remus' Magazine,, Lucien, Evelyn, Joel, 
Jr., Essie LaRose, now Mrs. Fritz Wagner, and Mil- 
dred. The methods of Mr. Harris in training his chil- 
dren were thoroughly characteristic. Upon one occa- 
sion, one of the boys of the family seemed to be living 
a little high. Mr. Harris heard about it. So one even- 

52 Memories of Uncle Remus 

ing at supper, when that particular young man was 
present, the father remarked : 

"Well, I certainly had a mighty good dinner at the 
Aragon Hotel today." 

Everybody was surprised. The Aragon, which had 
just been built, was the most luxurious hotel in the town. 
All ears listened to hear what was coming. 

"Yes sir, I went into the cafe," he said, "and I sat 
down and hollered for the nigger to bring me one of 
their laundry lists. I started in and ordered consomme, 
caviar, lobster a la Newburg, hors d'oeuvres, spaghetti, 
chow-chow, six entrees, and topped it off by ordering a 
quart of extra dry. When I finished my dinner I paid 
the bill, and gave the waiter a $10.00 tip. He handed me 
my hat, looked at me with an admiring grin and said, 
'Uh-uh! You sho mus' be dat young Mister Harris' 
paw!' " 

And that was all he said, but it was his way of sug- 
gesting to the young Harris that he had better settle 
down to the things he was born unto corn bread, col- 
lards and pot-liquor. And there is very good authority 
for the statement that the aforesaid young Harris 
mended his ways. 

Another story will illustrate his quaint ways of 
going at things. One of his sons, when about eigh- 
teen years old, was -the Atlanta correspondent for 
the Columbus, Ga., Enquirer-Sun. Handling as he did 
the political news for that paper, being located at the 
capital of the state, and being at an age of imperturb- 
able adolescence, the fashion in which he murdered Eng- 
lish was calculated to make the average philologist sit 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 


Mr. and Mrs. jfoel Chandler Harris and two of their grandchildren, I()OJ. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 55 

up and ponder. If Bill Jones stopped for a moment to 
speak to Jack Smith on a street corner, "an important 
political conference had occurred in our midst and mat- 
ters of state were receiving the full benefit of the experi- 
ence and interest of two of our leading statesmen." In 
short, the articles for the Enquirer-Sun were as flowery 
with verbiage as a field with daisies, and the youthful 
correspondent ran every polysyllable to earth on the 
slightest provocation. 

This flow of language was also a delight to the 
young business manager of the Enquirer-Sun, and 
many kind letters did the Harris boy receive from him. 
These served but to inspire young Harris to further 
raids against good form, and always at the top of the 
column in big letters appeared "By Julian Harris." 
Young Harris himself tells the remainder of the story, 
in this wise: 

"Warm Springs, Ga., is situated near Columbus, 
and about the time these wordy outpourings were encum- 
bering the columns of the Enquirer-Sun, my father 
went to Warm Springs. Unlucky chance put this busi- 
ness manager of the Enquirer-Sun at Warm Springs a 
day ahead of my father, and the aforesaid young man 
was standing at the counter when my father registered, 
'Joel Chandler Harris, Atlanta.' 

"My father turned to go to his room, and the young 
man glanced at the register and saw the name. With 
a beaming and benevolent smile the young man ap- 
proached my father and extended his hand, adding this 
query: 'Are you the son of our Mr. Julian Harris?' 
Calmly and quizzically my father gazed at the young 

56 Memories of Uncle Remus 

man who knew of my connection with the Enquirer-Sun 
through that flow of language (which my father had 
unceasingly yet unsuccessfully tried to divert into re- 
spectable channels) and quietly replied, 'No, Mister 
Julian Harris is my grandfather.' ' 

Joel Chandler Harris was making great strides on 
the Savannah News when in 1876 a yellow fever scourge 
swept over the town. Harris and his family fled to 
Atlanta. There Evan P. Howell gave the ambitious 
young journalist a job on the Constitution, and it was 
there he was to remain for more than twenty-five years 
of continuous service. 

Up to this time Harris had never written in negro 
dialect. Sam. W. Small, however, was at that time 
making a great hit with his "Old Si" stories. One day 
Small was taken ill, and the "Old Si" stories were 
omitted perforce. Soon letters began to come in inquir- 
ing why "Old Si" was left out of the paper. Capt. 
Howell, in a most common-place way, said to Harris : 

"Joe, why don't you try your hand at writing this 
sort of thing?" 

Harris remonstrated, but Howell insisted. The next 
day there appeared in the columns of the Constitution 
the first of the Uncle Remus stories. A genius had 
begun to bloom. Mr. Turner had prepared the soil, 
"Ole Uncle" George Terrell had sown the seed, Capt. 
Howell brought forth the blossom. The stories made a 
great hit at once, and the clamor for them seemed insatia- 
ble as long as Mr. Harris lived. They were the same 
stories other Southern boys had been hearing from their 
infancy, but somehow, with the new telling they re- 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 



Frontispiece of the first edition of "Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings." 
Reproduced by permission of D. Appleton & Co. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 


b. boaey. 141 you fallerV till you rise op an* toller? 

ill yon toller along alter ie 7 
De way'll be loag like it is rid de Sialler. 

Ac' de aigtt so dark you can't see 
lill yo rise heo 1 aollerV dill you roller aloo? alter 

Uy ti' se'abe. "iey's des good fisn 

Oey's des at good fish in de sea 
ty nx y'ever lock OBll" tell,' setce, "1 ish 

Del you'd run an' kMt ketch one fer le!" 

Old you eerf se'saa. an' 'I don't tbink you oujbler 

Give ay ter yo' griaf dauiay; 
Tie z ihan you aou?bter bed my dsu5iiur. 
Hat SBS'S ter be tarried ter-dayl" 

/Oa. aoney. ill you foll^rV aill you rise up an' foliar? 

nil you roller alon^ alter ? 
Iten da stars 'gin ter flicker iboo de trees in de boiler, 

An' de night so dark you can't see- 
Mil you rise up' an' toller'' ill you toller along alter 

fr da lalTH jgcrfl t-ir de spriii?.*. 
sz ol' r. Babbit, sezee; 

t "iTTan' a Swiy fer ol' Kr.-oon. 

Pol-licker far det al de gale; 
big asb-caka fer det dal's aooo, 

An' a drat far dec rtttx dil's 

;doney. hooeyl iill you tollerV lill you rise op an' toller? 
till you Toller elcm? 'tier ? 
He'll ski like de I Smller iboo de long, dark oolite, 
h'sn de *ai &$* is ridio' free 
till you rise up n' roller'' till you toller lon,? alter 9 

, 1< , / ,t** ; >i<'f** 

Fac-simile of a page of Joel Chandler Harris original manuscript, tiuith his 
own alterations. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 61 

ceived, they became something very new. It was Art 
in action. 

Harris continued to write in great quantity. Be- 
tween 1880 and 1907, he produced the following books, 
named here in their order of publication: 

"Uncle Remus, His Songs and Sayings"; "Nights 
with Uncle Remus"; "Mingo and Other Sketches in 
Black and White"; "Free Joe and Other Georgia 
Sketches"; "Uncle Remus and His Friends"; "On the 
Plantation"; "Little Mr. Thimblefinger" ; "Mr. Rabbit 
at Home"; "Sister Jane"; Daddy Jake, the Runaway"; 
"Baalam and His Master"; "The Story of Aaron, so 
named the son of Ben Ali"; "Stories of Georgia"; 
"Aaron in the Wild-wood"; "Tales of the Homefolks"; 
"Georgia from the Invasion of De Soto to Recent 
Times"; "Evening Tales"; "Stories of Homefolks"; 
"Chronicles of Aunt Minerva Ann"; "On the Wings 
of Occasion"; "The Making of a Statesman"; "Gabriel 
Toliver"; "Wally Wanderoon"; "A Little Union 
Scout"; "The Tar Baby Story and Other Rhymes of 
Uncle Remus"; "Told by Uncle Remus"; "Uncle 
Remus and Brer Rabbit". 

In addition to his signed articles and stories, Mr. 
Harris wrote countless unsigned editorials and articles 
for the Constitution during the next twenty-five years. 
His ability to turn out good readable copy was astonish- 
ing. With it all, he was ever good-natured and easy- 
going. The Constitution had an assistant foreman 
named Charles Pritchard. One day, Harris turned in 
his editorials to Mr. Pritchard and went home. It was in 
the days before the telephone covered all the territory. 

62 Memories of Uncle Remus 

Mr. Pritchard put the editorials in his overcoat pocket 
and also left the office. 

The next day the Constitution had just one editorial, 
written by the office boy, probably, and Mr. Pril -hard, 
on noticing the paper, became greatly frightened and 
hurried about nine in the morning to the office to explain 
to Mr. Harris. 

Harris laughed and said to Pritchard, at the same 
time reaching for his hat. "Well, Mr. Pritchard, you 
have certainly done me mighty proud. You have just 
saved me a day's work, and I am gwine back to West 
End and cook me a mess of collards," and he left the 
printer standing surprised and stammering. 

It is surprising how much fun Mr. Harris could get 
out of collards, pot -liquor, corn pone, and other homely 
dishes. To one of the early numbers of the Uncle 
Remus' Magazine, he contributed an extended editorial, 
entitled "Corn Bread and Dumplings," the opening sen- 
tence of which was: "The tenant of the Snap-Bean 
Farm has been wondering, not only recently, but for 
many long years, why some Poet, whose pipes are of 
sufficient range and volume, and whose art is entirely 
simple and true, does not set himself the delightful task 
of writing an epic on Corn meal." 

.It was on this "Snap-Bean Farm," a plot of ground 
in West End, about two miles from the center of 
Atlanta, that Harris lived and loved to live. He en- 
joyed the simplicity of it. Here he wrote his stories, 
using generally a lead pencil and the arm of a rocking 
chair on his wide front veranda. Here strangers visit- 
ing Atlanta came to see what manner of place it was. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 






Joel Chandler Harris the Man 65 

"We have no literary foolishness here," Mr. Harris 
remarked one day concerning Snap-Bean Farm. "We 
like people more than we do books, and we find more in 

It was at Snap-Bean Farm that Andrew Carnegie 
visited the author of Uncle Remus. Here too, the chil- 
dren have grown up. Here Mr. Harris built houses 
for them when they married, and here his grand chil- 
dren began to breathe an atmosphere of purity and 
wholesomeness. Here he died, and here now they talk 
of establishing a memorial to his memory that men 
of future generations may come and see the same trees, 
flowers, and haunts of birds which he enjoyed so deeply. 

As the years went by, Mr. Harris did more and more 
of his work at Snap-Bean Farm. He would come in 
town for the morning editorial conference at the Consti- 
tution office, and then go home to do his work. He saw 
little of people in general and did but little traveling. 
A few years ago, however, he did go to Washington to 
see the President. He described the visit in Uncle 
Remus' Magazine under the heading "Mr. Billy San- 
ders, of Shady Dale: He Visits the White House." 
Among his other comments on what he saw and heard 
was this which so thoroughly shows what appealed to 
Harris himself: 

"Thar's one thing about the White House that'll 
astonish you ef you ever git thar while Teddy is on hand. 
It's a home; it'll come over you like a sweet dream the 
minnit you git in the door, an' you'll wonder how they 
sweep out all the politics an' keep the place clean an' 
wholesome. No sooner had I shuck the President's hand 

66 Memories of Uncle Remus 

than the dinner bell rung> we call it the supper bell at 
my house an' then a lovely lady came to'rds me, wi' the 
sweetest-lookin' young gal that you ever laid eyes on; 
an' right then an' thar I know'd whar the home-feelin' 
came from, the feelin' that makes you think that you've 
been thar before, an' seen it all jest as it is, an' liked 
it all mighty well, so much so that you f ergit how old 
you are, an' whar you live at." 

Though Mr. Harris himself seldom went away from 
home, his family occasionally took a long summer out- 
ing, leaving "Uncle Remus" to hold the fort. Mr. For- 
rest Adair, of Atlanta, relates an interesting story of 
what took place on one of those occasions : 

"Mr. Harris was alone in his house working on an 
editorial, when a ring at the door disturbed him. He 
answered the bell, and a rather genteel-looking, middle- 
aged man saluted him, offering toilet soap for sale at 
'ten cents a cake, or three cakes for a quarter.' Annoyed 
by the interruption, Harris said rather brusquely that 
he did not need any soap. 

' 'But I am on the verge of starvation,' said the man. 
'The idea!' laughed Mr. Harris. 'Why, man, you 
are wearing a better coat than I have!' 

" 'You would not talk so,' he replied in a tremulous 
voice, 'if you had seen how hard my poor wife rubbed 
and brushed my coat this morning so that I would pre- 
sent a respectable appearance.' 

"Harris then saw that the coat was old, almost 
threadbare, but exceedingly clean and neat. He glanced 
again at the man's face. 

" 'Excuse me/ he said ; 'I was very busy when you 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 67 


Side view of the borne Mr, Harris loved so well. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 69 

came, and spoke thoughtlessly. Now that I think of 
it, I do need some soap. Fact is, I am completely out.' 
'Thank you,' interrupted the man ; 'here are three 
cakes for a quarter.' 

' 'Nonsense!' said Harris. 'Here is a five-dollar 
bill. I will take it all in soap. Got to have it couldn't 
do without it always buy it in five-dollar lots.' 

"The peddler left all of his stock, and delivered an- 
other lot later. It was a very profitable day's work for 
him. It was just like 'Uncle Remus.' He was always 
doing such things." 

In line with the popular practice of the day, the 
author of the Uncle Remus stories had many offers of 
large sums of money if he would appear before audiences 
and read selections from his own writings. These he 
steadily declined. His timidity couldn't stand it. He 
was once asked why he did not go on the lecture platform 
and read his stories as did Mr. Riley and Mr. Page. He 
replied that he could not do it if he were offered one 
hundred thousand dollars an evening that in the pres- 
ence of an audience his tongue refused to act. He 
was invited, upon one occasion, in company with Henry 
W. Grady, to a public gathering in Eatonton, his 
boyhood home. Mr. Grady made an address, and 
after he concluded the people called for Harris. It 
seemed that for once he would be forced to say a few 
words. He knew that it was impossible, but he could 
not afford to sit still like a statue while his old neigh- 
bors were calling upon him to utter a few words, so he 
arose and remarked "I have never been able to make a 
speech without taking a drink of water, so you must 

70 Memories of Uncle Remus 

wait until I can get a little water." And with that state- 
ment, he left the platform, but did not return. The 
whole company knew that he would not return when he 
left. They laughed and cheered him as he walked down 
the aisle, knowing that he had faced and escaped from a 
difficult situation in a characteristic way. 

The last year and a half of Joel Chandler Harris' 
life was devoted to the Uncle Remus Magazine, which 
he established and edited. His aims in this publication 
are best stated in these words of his own : 

"It is purposed to issue a magazine that will be 
broadly and patriotically American, and genuinely rep- 
resentative of the best thought of the whole country. 
The note of provinciality is one of the chief charms of 
all that is really great in English literature, but those 
who will be in charge of this magazine will have nothing 
to do with the provinciality so prevalent in the North, 
the East, the South and the West the provinciality 
that stands for ignorance and blind prejudice, that rep- 
resents narrow views and an unhappy congestion of 

"Neighbor-knowledge is perhaps more important in 
some respects than most of the knowledge imparted in 
the school. There is a woeful lack of it in the North 
and East with respect to the South, and this lack the 
magazine will endeavor in all seemly ways to remove. 
The new generation in the South has been largely edu- 
cated in Northern and Eastern institutions, with the re- 
sult that a high appreciation of all that is best and 
worthiest in those sections is spread farther and wider 
than ever before and is constantly growing in extent. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 71 

Foimcje4 by JOCly 


Fac-simile of "Uncle Remus Magazine," the last great interest of Mr. Horns' life. 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 73 

On the other hand, at the North neighbor-knowledge of 
the South is confined almost entirely to those who have 
made commercial explorations of this section, and who 
have touched Southern life at no really significant or 
important point. 

"It shall be the purpose of the magazine to oblit- 
erate ignorance of this kind. It will deal with the high 
ideals toward which the best and ripest Southern thought 
is directed ; it will endeavor to encourage the cultivation 
of the rich field of poetry and romance which, hi the 
Southern States, offers a constant invitation to those 
who aspire to deal in fictive literature. Itself standing 
for the highest and best in life and literature, the maga- 
zine will endeavor to nourish the hopes and beliefs that 
ripen under the influence of time, and that are constantly 
bearing fruit amongst the children of men." 

For each number of this magazine Mr. Harris wrote 
an editorial. Here his quaint fancifulness found full 
opportunity. His ramblings among fields of dreams 
and imagery were always a feature of the publication. 
In one of the Christmas numbers he had an editorial on 
"Santa Glaus and the Fairies." Characteristic of the 
man is this quotation: 

"The real fairy stories are far truer than any truth 
that appeals to the minds of the materialists; they are 
true to the ideals by which right-minded men and 
women live, and truer than any fact discovered by 
those who grovel close to the ground. It is a pity that 
there should be any grovelling in this bright and beau- 
tiful world, but so it is, and the grovellers seem to be 
in the majority. The farmer has never been able to 

74 Memories of Uncle Remus 

understand the motives of those who are such sticklers 
for cold facts and the naked truth. But such, gentle 
reader, is the nature and purpose of those who have no 
faith and no belief in the supernatural, and who laugh 
to scorn the creations of the imagination of the race. 
Such are the materialists who go about destroying leg- 
ends that embody the highest forms of truth, the very 
essence of beauty." 

A final quotation from the magazine will give in a 
few lines the fundamental ideal of Mr. Harris' life. 
With the following words in mind one can understand 
his profound grasp upon truth and his mastery of the 
secret of happiness: 

"What is success and in what does it consist? In 
heaping up accumulations of money and property by 
overreaching the public and crushing competition? In 
greasing the axles of progress with the blood of the 
poor and the ignorant? In adding to the doubts, and 
thereby increasing the misery of the people of the nations 
of the earth? Or does it consist in living a clean and 
wholesome life, in making the troubles of your neigh- 
bor your own, in avoiding envy and all forms of covet- 
ousness and in thanking Heaven for what you have, 
however small a portion that may be? There can be no 
form of real success that does not bring some sort of aid 
and comfort to humanity, that does not make people a 
little happier, a little more contented than they were 
before, that does not uplift, in some sort, the soul which 
the German professor could not find in his cadavers, 
and that does not bring joy and content from the shal- 
low well of life." 

Joel Chandler Harris the Man 





JHERE'S a shadow on the cotton-patch; 

the blue has left the sky ; 
I The mournin' meadows echo with the 

southwind's saddened sigh; 
| And the gold of all the sunshine in Dixie's 

turned to gray 
But the roses and the violets shall hide his face away. 

"The Little Boy" is lonesome and his eyes are dim with 

tears ; 

Beyond the mists he only sees the shadows of the years ; 
The light all lies behind him with his best friend gone 

But the softest winds of Dixie at his heart will kneel to 


The people of the woodlands the fur and feathered 

The bear the fox the rabbit will mourn him more 

than man; 
But the rose that sways above him in his blossom-tented 

Shall turn its crimson lips of love to kiss away the gloom. 

80 Memories of Uncle Remus 

The shadow's on the cotton-patch; the light has left the 


A world shall bow in sorrow at his message of good-bye; 
And the gold of all the sunshine in Dixie's turned to 

But the sweetest flowers of the South shall hide his face 






A Memorial Sermon, delivered on the day of Harris* Burial. 

July 5, 19O8, in Trinity Church, Atlanta. Ga.. 

by Rev. James W. Lee, D. D. 

" The Lord opened the eyes of the young man ; and he saw ; and behold 
the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire." II. Kings vi. I 7 

I HIS text is connected with a scene in Do- 
than, which took place between Elisha 
and the hosts of the King of Syria. The 
servant of Elisha was deeply concerned 
for the safety of his master, until his eyes 
were opened, and then he saw that they who were with 
Elisha were far more than they who were against him. 
I shall take the text from the events and the persons 
directly related to it, and use it as containing a very im- 
portant, universal lesson, on the subject of seeing. The 
difference in men in all ages is largely a question of vision. 


The lower animals have only one pair of eyes, but 
human beings have two sets of eyes. By the first 
they see material, outside things; by the second, they 
see interior realities. God opens our outward eyes 
naturally, without our consent, as He opens the eyes 
of the bird. But in the opening of our inside eyes, 
by which we see interior realities, He must have our 
co-operation. Our outside eyes God opens for us. 

84 Memories of Uncle Remus 

Our inside eyes are self-opened, yet with God's help. 
John Addington Symonds said it was easy, from 
a first visit, to feel and say something obvious about 
Venice. That the influence of that sea city, when first 
seen, is unique, immediate and unmistakable. But 
that to express the sober truth of those impressions, 
after the first astonishment of the Venetian vision had 
subsided, after the spirit of the place had been har- 
monized through familiarity with one's habitual mood, 
was difficult. I was in Venice last year just long 
enough to feel the rapture of a primal view. So, I 
brought away the picture formed by a glimpse from a 
gondola, gliding noiselessly through her network of 
canals, of the most picturesque spot of earth and brine 
on the planet. I find it easy, therefore, to call up in 
memory the scenery of that center of art and wonder. 
Symonds paints sunsets emblazoned in gold and crim- 
son upon cloud and water ; violet domes and bell-towers 
etched against the orange of a western sky; moonlight 
silvering breeze-rippled breadths of liquid blue; distant 
island shimmering in sun-lit haze ; music and black glid- 
ings boats; labyrinthine darkness, made for mysteries 
of love and crime; statue-fretted palace fronts; brazen 
clangor and a moving crowd ; pictures by earth's proud- 
est painters, cased in gold on walls of council chambers 
where Venice sat enthroned, a queen, and where nobles 
swept the floors with robes of Tyrian brocade. But to 
the people who make Venice their home, the pathos of 
this marble city, crumbling to its grave in mud and sea 
is not felt. The best descriptions we have, therefore, 
of the city of St. Mark's and the Doge's palace, are 

The Character of Joel Chandler Harris 85 

y otl Chandler Harris at if) yean of age. From a Dagutrreotyfe. 

The Character of Joel Chandler Harris 87 

from persons who had barely time to look at this won- 
drous pile of magnificence, before turning away from it. 


All this I feel when I undertake to speak of my 
dear friend, Joel Chandler Harris. The best represen- 
tations of his life will come from those who have seen 
him and measured him from a distance, from those who 
have lived far enough away from him to get a com- 
plete idea of the great world of imagery, of beauty 
and of innocent and wholesome illusion he has created. 
If we had been brought up in the sun, we could not 
form such an idea of its vast oceans of light as do 
those who are bathed in its waves from some of the out- 
lying planets millions of miles from it. The feelings 
of those brought up with Mr. Harris, and living all 
their lives in close proximity to his simple, beautiful 
life, may be defined as those of love and complete admi- 
ration. It has never occurred to them to engage in 
the critical business of forming dry and intellectual esti- 
mates of his mysterious mental powers. They have felt 
them and rejoiced in them, and with that they have been 
content. The people of Georgia feel very much toward 
Mr. Harris as the citizens of Venice feel toward their 
city they love him too much to describe him. Out- 
siders may take intellectual interest in him; the interest 
we take in him is emotional and affectional. We have 
regarded him as the property of our hearts and not of 
our heads. He has moved in and out among us, the 
genial, palpitating form of a time that is gone. He 

88 Memories of Uncle Remus 

has made to live over again, in a new age, the days of 
our fathers and mothers. He has shown us the kindly 
faces and the warm hearts of the old-time negro mam- 
mas who nursed us. He has caught in the chambers 
of his imagery and transmuted into eternal form, life 
as it was lived on the southern plantation. He has 
arrested and given ideal, everlasting setting to a period 
about to pass forever on the downward stream of time. 
He has thrown the color of his genius into our fields 
and woods. He has idealized our region and given it a 
permanent place in the world's literature. He has taken 
the raw material of myth and legend and folk-lore 
lying about in a disorganized way in the minds of our 
population, pulverized it, sublimated it, and converted 
it into current coin for circulation throughout the world 
of letters. 


As the poet Burns, by lifting his Bonnie Boon 
from the realm of matter to that of thought, caused 
it to flow through all lands, so Mr. Harris took 
the common rabbit of the Georgia briar patch and gave 
it ideal form, so that now it triumphs over its enemies 
everywhere in the universal mind of childhood. 

Mr. Harris, by endowing his animals with a sort of 
human wisdom, has turned them loose on the planet to 
advertise his name forever. He caught them and 
branded them and made them his own. Wherever you 
find a rabbit, whether in Africa or Asia or Europe or 
on the scattered islands of the sea, that little breathing 
pinch of dust belongs to Mr. Harris. His pose beside 

The Character of Joel Chandler Harris 89 

Joel Chandler Harris at 21 years of age. 

The Character of Joel Chandler Harris 91 

the briar patch, his harmless paws, his large farseeing 
eyes are all the personal property of "Uncle Remus." 
No one can ever take them from him. Among all the 
coming sons of men no one will ever rise up to make 
them talk and act as he did. He entered their little 
lives; he jumped through the broomsage with them; 
he took up his abode in their haunts; his feelings pul- 
sated in their diminutive hearts ; his genius uttered itself 
through their habits. He did for his animals what 
Stradivarius did for his violin, he put his soul into them. 


No country becomes really and perennially attrac- 
tive until through the genius of its chosen sons it is 
transferred from the region of time and space into that 
of spirit. Thousands of people go to Italy every year, 
not to see its mountains of earth and rock, not to see 
its patches of vineyard clinging to its hills, but to see 
these as they have been lifted up and made to glow 
through the thought of Michael Angelo, Dante and 
Raphael. People care little for houses and lands and 
railroads and great cities, until they become significant 
and beautiful through association with great thought. 
We love Mr. Harris, therefore, not simply because he 
was genuinely true, and kindly and good, but because, 
in addition to all these traits of personal worth, he was a 
creator, and helped to give our state a place in the 
eternal realm of mind. By his work he enhanced not 
only our belongings, but ourselves. He enriched us all 
by a process of artistic work by which he, at the same 
time, enriched himself. The wealth he created was of 

92 Memories of Uncle Remus 

the high sort that breaks through the limitations and 
confines of fee simple, exclusive titles. It cannot be 
cabined, or cornered, or confined. It is of the sort that, 
when once produced, increases in proportion to the num- 
ber of persons who share in it. It is of the kind that 
belongs to the universal spirit of man. 


Mr. Harris illustrates for us what one may find in 
the depths of his being, when he seriously sets about 
exploring the interior domain of his own soul for hidden 
treasures. All the wealth of beauty he has turned into 
the modern mind is simply what he discovered packed 
away in the recesses of his own personality. By earn- 
estly and industriously and persistently searching in 
the mines of his consciousness, he came upon layers of 
vast value, more precious than gold. No prospector in 
the mountains of California, or Colorado, ever gloated 
in completer glee over rich finds discovered than did 
this unworldly son of Georgia chuckle in hilarious de- 
light over images, ideas, figures, he saw lying in heaps 
in the unseen world of his spirit. Those who were inti- 
mate with Mr. Harris will call to mind his habit of shak- 
ing with merriment always just before giving expres- 
sion to some quaint or exquisite sentiment, as if he saw 
the striking quality of the thought he was about to 
utter before it completely took form in speech. By liv- 
ing constantly with the fancies and beautiful scenery he 
had accustomed himself to find in his own mind, he kept 
himself at a perpetual level of good humor. He always 
impressed me as one who was being constantly sustained 

The Character of Joel Chandler Harris 93 

oel Chandler Harris at 24 yean of age, the time of his marriage. 

The Character of Joel Chandler Harris 95 

Reading from right to left: Roberts, Joel Chandler Harris, J. H. Estill, Henry 
W. Grady. Taken at Look-out Mountain, Tenn. t about 1880. 

The Character of Joel Chandler Harris 97 

The Character of Joel Chandler Harris 99 

by unseen resources of happiness. He radiated as natur- 
ally as a candle shines. He never had to leave home to 
find pleasure. He was rarely ever at banquets given by 
his fellow citizens, all of whom he loved. He had such 
a happy lot of sports and innocent revelers banqueting 
day by day in the halls of his imagination that he was 
hardly ever able to see his way clear to leave these 
inside guests for those he might find outside. By com- 
mand of the President of the United States he was 
forced, on one occasion, to go out and sit down with 
the great, as the world measures greatness, and Mr. 
Roosevelt had the insight that enabled him to know that 
he was causing acute discomfort to a man of whom he 
was very fond. 


The world can well forgive Herbert Spencer for 
denying himself the social life of London, that he might 
give himself up entirely to working out his synthetic 
philosophy. So we can well forgive Mr. Harris for 
not seeing his way clear to dine with us often, inasmuch 
as he was giving his whole attention to preparing feasts 
which the whole world can share with him forever. He 
transmuted his soul into his writings. He converted 
himself into literature. He realized his ideals by ideal- 
izing his reals. He had illimitable optimism, because 
he ranged in a region where vast hopes are fed. He 
laughed with a wholesomeness and depth that indicated 
his proximity to the boundless resources of infinite good 
cheer. He revelled and luxuriated like an innocent, 
happy child out for a holiday from eternity. He was 

100 Memories of Uncle Remus 

contagious like sweet music. People caught him as 
invalids catch health in the mountains. All felt him as 
travelers in Holland feel the presence of acres of car- 
nations, blooming on the roadside. His ministry was not 
dogmatic, bristling like the quills of a porcupine, with 
"thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots;" it was quiet and 
persuasive and all-conquering like the sunlight. He 
conquered by warmth and color, by radiating and illumi- 
nating. He made no enemies, because he obliterated 
the battlements of those who would fight by the resistless 
impact of successive installments of good will. He was 
no coward ; he was not without deep convictions, but he 
bombarded that which was low with that which was high. 
He put those who opposed him out of business by think- 
ing at higher levels than they were mentally able to 
breathe on, as Watt put the stage coach industry out 
of business by converting his ideas into better methods 
of transportation. 


His aims were simple and his consecration to his 
ideals was complete. He was so sweet and unpreten- 
tious however, that to a stranger he seemed to have no 
aims at all. He never referred to himself, he never 
asserted himself, he never advertised himself. No man 
ever wore the honors that unbidden came to him with less 
seeming self-gratulation. If he had received notice that 
he had been elected president of the whole world of let- 
ters, I believe he would have responded that he pre- 
ferred to stay in West End and look after his garden. 
What he had done in giving the world his. ideals, he felt 

The Character of Joel Chandler Harris 101 

The Character of Joel Chandler Harris 103 

Andrew Carnegie and Joel Chandler Harris, on front la-wn of Snap Bean Farm, 

The Character of Joel Chandler Harris 105 

anybody could do, if he would only practice the industry 
he had. He told me one day that every young person 
had a head full of dreams and fancies, and that the 
only difference in persons was found in the fact that 
some people, by hard effort, corralled their fancies and 
dreams, as ranchmen do their cattle, and others did not. 
He said any person could write an interesting book if 
he would only make up his mind to be himself and get 
at it and stick to it until the task was finished. 


Mr. Harris has taught us the pure luxury of just 
living in the completest simplicity one's own life. He 
never sought honors, or money, or official distinction. 
The idea of maintaining a position for the mere show of 
it, the idea of keeping up a social impressiveness equal 
to that of his neighbors was utterly foreign to him. Life 
itself, without any of the accompaniments and surround- 
ings which usually go with it, was to him the center of 
his whole philosophy of contentment. Things that came 
to him as part of the pecuniary reward of his labors he 
accepted with thankfulness and used rationally, but not 
to them did he turn as reasons for solid happiness. They 
were the mere scaffolding of his real life. Hence, he 
liked simple things, old things, plain things. He would 
have preferred a street car to an automobile. His 
luxuries were sunsets, and trees, skies, clouds, common 
every-day human beings and little children. He liked 
learning as long as it was not pretentious. He liked 
scholarly people if they had perspective enough not to be 
proud. A son of Adam to him, whether on a throne or 

106 Memories of Uncle Remus 

in a cottage, was a son of Adam, and all the distinctions 
of rank by which men divide themselves up were to him 
artificial and mechanical. He enjoyed sitting down with 
Mr. Carnegie under a tree in his yard, because the great 
philanthropist was a simple Scotchman who had worked 
himself up from a mill boy to a king of industry. 


He was uneasy and ill at ease whenever people pro- 
posed to meet him on any other than simple, human 
terms. If they came announced as great people, to see 
him, an author of world-wide fame, he hardly knew how 
to face the situation. If a plain Mr. Jones came to call, 
though, in fact, he might be the president of a railroad, 
or an owner of a 10-acre farm, he was grace itself. He 
was perfectly at home with folks as long as there was no 
rattle of titles. He greatly enjoyed meeting the presi- 
dent because Mr. Roosevelt, being before and above 
all things else a genuine man, met Mr. Harris on the 
plain terms of hearty, robust manhood. It was surpris- 
ing to him why people wanted his autograph, and he was 
a little slow about responding to such demands. Jahu 
Dewitt Miller, knowing this, was accustomed to send 
any of Mr. Harris' books in which he wanted the 
author's autograph to me, that I might call in person 
and secure it. On one occasion a couple of first editions 
of "Uncle Remus' " came to me with a letter saying: 
"Please go out and see Mr. Harris and have him write 
some aphorism and his name in these books, and send 
them back to me." I called and said, "Mr. Harris, a 
friend of yours and mine wants you to write an aphorism 

The Character of Joel Chandler Harris 107 

7 f F*'~' rurrm "V-^J^^. t 

/ ^ 

r/yC/s9i^*Jif^*^^^^ ^ 

Fac-simii'e of inscription by Joel Chandler Harris, "written at request of 
Jahu Dt Witt Miller. 

108 Memories of Uncle Remus 

and your name in each of these 'Uncle Remus' ' books." 
He looked solemn and said, "I have no aphorisms." I 
walked up to him and said, "Now, please, my friend, 
don't be contrary and heady; take these books and write 
in them at once, or I'll camp out here in front of your 
door until you do." He took the books, sat down by a 
table and in each of them wrote, "With the regards of 
Joel Chandler Harris," and then underneath wrote this: 

"Oh, don't stay long, en don't stay late 
It ain't so mighty fur ter de Goodbye Gate." 

"Uncle Remus." 


It was seemingly a mystery to him why every person 
was not able to find in his own life all the distinction he 
wanted. He regarded breathing and drinking water and 
walking under the heavens as distinction enough for 
any one mortal. He did not understand how one person 
could get any significance from what any other person 
could give him. The most stupendous significance 
imaginable was, to him, just living. With life one had 
everything, after that, all was incidental. He owned a 
few acres of ground in the suburbs of Atlanta. This 
was outside of him, and well enough to grow "collards" 
on, but he owned a plantation inside the wide reaches of 
his soul extensive enough to furnish a playground for 
all the animals in creation. 

Mr. Harris has taught us how to make a beautiful 
world for each one of ourselves by idealizing the realities 
around us. He was never satisfied with any place or 

The Character of Joel Chandler Hams 109 

Joel Chandler Harris and Evan P. Hmuell. Snap-shot taken on plantation of 

H. M. Comer, Jefferson County, Georgia, in spring of 1905, 

just before Captain Ho-well died. 

The Character of Joel Chandler Harris 111 

situation until he painted it, and made it glow with the 
colors of his own spirit. He started as an apprentice 
in a plantation printing office in Putnam county. Quite 
an obscure and out-of-the-way position, you say, for 
putting much color on. But when he left that printing 
office he had made it so beautiful that it has been shining 
out there in the country for nearly fifty years. His 
home in West End he has idealized until it has become 
the most beautiful home in Atlanta, and people from all 
over the country make pilgrimages to see it. The aver- 
age man thinks a beautiful house is something external, 
but there is no genuine beauty in any house or in any 
place that is not put into it from the depths of some- 
body's soul. The cottage in which the poet Burns was 
born, multiplied by the spirit of Burns, is far more beau- 
tiful, and attracts thousands more of sight-seers than the 
Taj-ma-hal in Agra, India. Mr. Harris has practiced 
all his life the inner, spiritual method of making things 
about him beautiful, and that he has succeeded far be- 
yond the rest of his fellow-citizens is the testimony of the 


He was transformed from within by the renewing of 
his mind and proved by the test of personal experience 
how good and acceptable and perfect the interior method 
of transformation is. He was not conformed to the 
fashion of his age, in the sense that the outside world 
forced him to terms with its passing and perishing 
affairs. Instead of permitting the world to digest and 
assimilate him he followed a line of interior activity, by 
which he digested and assimilated the world. Instead of 

112 Memories of Uncle Remus 

moving with the current, he compelled the current to 
flow through the channels of his thought. Instead of 
passively domesticating himself at the level of things as 
he found them, he resolutely, by the activity of his spirit 
set about lifting to a higher plane the world in which 
his lot was cast. Instead of accepting standards ready- 
made, he proposed to establish new ones on his own 
account. Instead of dancing to the world's music, he 
gave out from the depths of his soul new notes for the 
world to dance to. 


Mr. Harris was a deeply religious man. As the 
quiet, silent, sunlight manages to embody itself in all 
trees and flowers and animals in the world, so the religion 
of Mr. Harris found embodiment in all his writings and 
in all the relations of his lif e. He would have been the 
last man to claim much for himself religiously, as he 
would have been the last man to claim much for himself 
artistically, but all who associated with him personally 
or through his writings knew that he was both an artist 
and a deeply religious man. He was a devoted follower 
of the Lord Jesus Christ. He told me not long ago that 
all the agnostics and materialists in creation could never 
shake his faith. But he would have felt about as awk- 
ward in proclaiming himself a pattern of piety as he 
would in proclaiming himself a pattern in literature. 

His religion pervaded his whole life, as health per- 
vades a strong man's body. It was more of an atmos- 
phere you felt than a distinct entity you could describe. 
His home was filled with it. You could never enter his 

The Character of Joel Chandler Harris 113 

door without a sense of a subtle, genial presence resting 
on everything about the home. Every child he had did 
seemingly as he pleased, but grew up to express in 
orderly conduct and attention to duty the sweet music 
of his father's house, to which he had adjusted himself 
almost unconsciously. He seemed to be regulated by no 
hard and fast rules, nor did he seem to bring those about 
him under the sway of hard and fast rules. His rules, 
whatever they were, were broken up, and diffused 
throughout his home, which he and his family breathed as 
the lungs take in the breath of the morning. As he lived 
so he died, peacefully, beautifully, kindly, humanly. 
One of his sons entered his room when his feet were al- 
most on the brink of the river of death, and said: "How 
are you this morning, father?" "Well, I am about the 
extent of the tenth of a gnat's eye brow better." His 
last words were uttered after hearing read a letter from 
Mr. Roosevelt expressing sorrow at his illness. "Tell 
the President that he has been very kind." So Joel 
Chandler Harris passed away from the realm of shad- 
ows into that of light, with the feeling that all the peo- 
ple, from the President down to the poorest man he had 
ever met, had been very kind to him. 

The Character of Joel Chandler Harris 115 


Joel Chandler Harris at jy, at work in his home in Atlanta, Ga. Taken in igo6. 






UMMER is in the world, sweet-singing, 
And blossoms breathe in every clod; 

The lowly vales with music ringing, 
High-answered from the hills of God. 

Yet hills, to dream-deep vales replying, 

Sing not as if one flower could die ; 
He would not have the Summer sighing 

Who never gave the world a sigh 1 

Who heard the world's heart beat, and listened 
Where God spake in a drop of dew; 

And if his eyes with teardrops glistened 
The world he loved so never knew. 

Its grief was his each shadow falling, 

That on a blossom left its blight; 
But when he heard the Darkness calling 

He knew that Darkness dreamed of Light. 

And that God's love each life inspires 
Love in the humblest breast impearled; 

He made the lowly cabin-fires 

Light the far windows of the world! 

He dreamed the dreams of Childhood, giving 

Joy to it to the wide world's end; 
For in the Man the Child was living, 

And little children called him Friend. 

120 Memories of Uncle Remus 

Not his to stand where lightnings gleaming 
Illume the laurel wreath of Fame ; 

Sweeter to hear the roses dreaming, 
And in the violets read Love's name. 

Love in the winds the corn blades blowing; 

Love where the brown bee builds the comb ; 
Love in the reaping and the sowing, 

Love in the holy lights of Home. 

A life faith-true each hour unfolding 

A kinship with a life to be ; 
A world in wonder, when beholding 

The greatness of Simplicity! 

Wherever song is loved, and story 

Cheers the world's firesides, there he dwells- 

A guest, regardless of earth's glory, 
To whom Time waves no sad farewells. 

From Life to Life he passed; God's pages 
Shine with his name, immortal bright; 

One with the starred and echoing ages, 
A brother to Eternal Light. 




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