REVIEWS OF BOOKS
"THE COLONEL'S DREAM," by Charles W. Chestnut, Doubleday. Page & Co., Publishers, New York.
This is a story of more than usual interest from several standpoints. In the first place, it is a novel written with a purpose. This purpose is to point out the faults of the south towards the colored race. It is easy to see that the writer observes things with darkly-colored glasses, but that is explained by the fact that he is a colored man, and one, it seems, who is deeply prejudiced against southern laws and southern customs. The story is written with a distorted view of facts and race conditions.
"The Colonel" is a southern man who has made a fortune in New York and returns to his home in the south filled with schemes for building up and bettering the conditions of his native village. Now, in just what part of the south this village is located fails to appear, and we are inclined to think that nowhere, except in the realm of imagination, do quite such lazy, inert, prejudiced, good-for-nothing people live. Above all their other bad qualities, however, loom up the outrageous injustice and cruelty of their treatment of the colored race. They are imprisoned for the merest trifles and worked in convict camps where fiends in human shape glory in their suffering. Riots and lynchings are common occurrences in this benighted spot, and the Colonel, who has high ideals and wishes to be a philanthropist becomes at first discouraged and then disgusted, and when an angry mob resents his burying the body of an old and faithful negro servant in his own cemetery lot, he shakes the dust from his feet and returns to more congenial climes, as might have been expected. For it things are as they are painted by this as well as many other writers, the south is indeed a dark and benighted region, and we need missionaries. But if the writer, who is evidently one of the best educated and most intelligent of his race, would cast aside some of the prejudices which now blinds his eyes and think of some of the benefits his race has received from these southern people, he might write from a different standpoint. It is easy enough to magnify small things until they obscure the great things, ad if the writer of the book would think for a moment of the millions of educated and civilized Africans in this country and compare them with the savages they sprang from, he might see a little of the benefit which has his race has received from the whites. It is to be hoped that if "The Colonel's Dream" is to be repeated, the next may be more natural and truer to life.
Rev. of The Colonel's Dream in "Reviews of Books," The Knoxville Sentinel 28 Oct. 1905): 12.