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[Review of The Colonel's Dream]

"The Colonel's Dream," by Charles W. Chesnutt. This is a remarkable story written by a colored man; but it is not remarkable for the text upon which it is written, because any newspaper reader sees too many accounts of the atrocities today committed in the South. The story is simple in itself. Col. French, having acquired a large fortune in New York, returns South to the home of his youth. He is a widower with an only child, a little boy. Col. French tries in every way to help both the whites and the colored people of his native town. Convict labor, that horrible curse of a few of the middle Southern states, is depicted with lurid strength by Mr. Chesnutt. The terrors of those unfortunate negroes sold to men who work and starve them, or shoot them down for uttering even the feeblest protest, make a picture to nauseate any one with a heart. Convict labor in the South is a blot on the flag of freedom. Every now and then a book like "The Colonel's Dream" is written, and the wall of those black men and women kept in bondage for years, and freed all too quickly for their ultimate good, sends its echo over the United States in a cry against the lash of the convict overseer and the flash of the lyncher's gun. It is not strange that a colored man should be a writer of stories. The colored race is full of imagination and often gifted with a vocabulary for expression. The story of "The Colonel's Dream" is well told, the author's language well chosen and his characters are well described. He is just in picturing the white people, and more than generous in his treatment of some of them. His colored people are perfect pictures. In dear, sweet "Miss Laura," the self-sacrificing spinster, the kindest and most loyal of the flower of the old South, Mr. Chesnutt gives a photograph recognizable to all who have visited some old Southern mansion shaded by magnolia trees, the light from within shining alike on the good and the bad. Some time when they are not busy with the tariff, the trusts or railroads the lawmakers might try to see into the horrors of convict labor and try a little missionary work near by. It has been a long time since the fourteenth of April, 1865. The martyr president today is ashes, but the Fourteenth amendment is still on record, and in the din of politics, there are only a few men to keep alive to such problems as those written about in "The Colonel's Dream" "lest we forget."