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[314] of the South made literature impossible except for those with an unquenchable longing for expression.

Worse even than stagnation was the hopelessness of the outlook. The leaders, the owners of plantations, were reduced from affluence to poverty. Many a family that had been comfortable or even rich was now thankful for a supper of cornmeal. Plantations were for sale at a song. The ‘richest estates’ of North Carolina were at first to be bought for from one to ten dollars an acre. A hundred acres four miles from Macon, Georgia, the birthplace of Lanier, was offered for fifty cents an acre. The Southerner was convinced that the negro would not work in freedom. Two books give unforgettable pictures of the efforts of the planters to meet the new industrial situation. Ten years on a Georgia plantation by the daughter of Fanny Kemble, Frances Butler Leigh, details the childishness of the negro under the novel conditions of freedom. Mrs. Leigh can hardly be claimed as a Southern author, but Susan Dabney Smedes (1840—) must take high rank as one. Her Memorials of a Southern planter is an artless but absorbing picture of a class made extinct by the war. Without any of the theatrical effectiveness common in the older Southern prose, she relates in simple, dignified words the history of her father, Thomas Dabney, a planter of Mississippi. The war brought out in him such lofty nobility as is seldom seen in actual life. On laying down the volume Gladstone exclaimed ‘Let no man say, with this book before him, that the age of chivalry is gone, or that Thomas Dabney was not worthy to sit beside Sir Perceval at the “table round” of King Arthur.’ His struggle to keep the plantation ended in its sale. A like fate awaited others. It was only slowly through the years that the large holdings were broken up into small farms and reduced to a more intense cultivation by intelligent diversification of crops.

Hopelessness of the economic outlook was deepened to despair by political and social conditions. By 1870 the seceded states were nominally reconstructed. But the Republican measures were such as poured salt and iron filings into the open wounds of civil war. Negro soldiers were set over their former masters. The intelligent voters were disqualified. The state governments were handed over to Northern carpet-baggers and

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