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At 85 Cedar St. ,New York.January 4th,190a
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.
JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS
THIS IS NUMBER^ ^"2LOF THE THREE HUNDRED
COPIES OF THIS BOOK WHICH HAVE BEEN
PRINTED ALL FOR PRIVATE DISTRIBUTION.
" / 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
BY IVY L. LKK
JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS THE MAX . . . . 17
UNCLE REMUS, BY GRANTLAND RICE . . . . . 79
THE CHARACTER OF JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS,
BY REV. J. W. LEE ... . . . . . 88
IN MEMORY OF JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS,
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
UNCLE REMUS' IDEA OF CHRISTMAS
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.
JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS
|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
Joel Chandler Harris the Man 29
Printing Office at Turnivold, Ga., ivhtr "The Countryman" ivas puhliihed.
Joel Chandler Harris the Man
Tl MMMI HA MTU I* l*
1IIK I'ol 1.IKIIIN
r22T^- r - = ~
EjS>r ; Ha
,:^r.5!~vrc^. l 57rrjr fiS-sr^t?^-
~--" 'lr-.' J ert*i!_ j*. ~-^* i ; ..'iv..'..rr^i?T
ri< ^. . .*.-
'*'* >-^;T-^^^*r-v" u 'y-i j^^*-* * i y~^^"'
M *. uv. * * rt *5*** -< * " *'' (v * , ^ " "*^^ "T/iV 1 ****
.fct.^-.k^w^wtrJiJT^,^^^ Jl^J 1 M rr,"rL^L'<i' ; M. ^~ 'II?* *.*
^* ^ t . |C-. T^lZi^^^i--. a-Tw^.. !**.-. .J~.*>1
^S^riEr r'^j ^^^trcJTJ^^^^^^tr^^jt.t. :<
'*** n ^ *' 1 r*~ - . p ** r * IH
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
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)
BY JOEL C. HARRIS.
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
, \.'ff^ f.
1 v . w 'm/ itir..u/ti fr,Mii
t*U t-> N ' :* *r-tr-
|'M;" . ' *< ih'f mt ft sr**i uun
bcnn^-* i* -i <-..-
t ,rfc.y. f ". rf "* ' ' 3 *' ^'i" ' ( ^Si'
.. ^i#p. ^r^bii-h..
I'.iK P;'.\m A * n.imhw <*f
* hav r
Kc r.U>i Ml U* *bk lh* Ue pnf**
tn>o^tutf .i. ^ ^^^ ,. H . ,,,;i <(W . o.;.- -- n!i <t 11 j-r ccr.i .1.4" . U
'*--- n f.mrthouMnil;,,bbiih*-.
" ''Vf^'t. '. "
. **-i. 1 Sin* uoein>t ii
..n:,l. Oi [
"" - j>r(i ot r -beiintn. ^^ hj[ wool *>* DM'* jo fo*iJ
; ... l>i>. vi.-iiitT of \**n. WortHfrrd _ tikww*
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
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'
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
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
" UNCLE REMUS"
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
Joel Chandler Harris the Man 61
ceived, they became something very new. It was Art
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
"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
COPYRIGHT, UNDERWOOD A UNDERWOOD.
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
"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
BY GRANTLAND EICE
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
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
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
JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS
THE CHARACTER OF
JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS
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
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
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
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."
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
COPYRIGHT, UNDERWOOD 4 UNDERWOOD.
Joel Chandler Harris at jy, at work in his home in Atlanta, Ga. Taken in igo6.
JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS
JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS
BY FRANK L. STANTON
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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