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experienced and in this important respect, our observation does not authorise us to exalt a majority of the Society of Friends, above that of any other religious sect in England. Individuals among them are, doubtless, as among others, emirrently qualified, and zealously disposed, to inculcate religion on youthful minds: but as a party, we apprehend them to lay less stress on religious doctrines than any other sect, and therefore to be likely to take less pains in impressing them properly on their children. We remember having conversed with a sensible and well disposed youth, who was then leaving the public seminary of the Quakers in Yorkshire, and whom we found unable to give any rational account of the benefits accruing to sinners from the sufferings of Christ. Our surprise, though not our concern, was abated, on learning that he had received no religious instruction, but from reading the Bible as a school-book. The children of the seminary, about three hundred in number, were accustomed, on the first day of the week, to assemble twice; and to sit unemployed, an hour and half each time, at a silent meeting: no public friend residing on the spot, or usually being moved to visit them.
It is with some confidence, that we assign the small volume before us, to the author of one which we have had the pleasure of recommending (Vol. I. p. 862), under the title of "Interesting Conversations;" although on the present occasion, she has assumed masculine attire, certainly without affording any just ground to impeach her modesty. Here, as before, she is the advocate, not of any sect, but of genuine Christianity: and she pleads its cause, in a very amusing, as well as a very instructive manner. She has avoided the trifling errors which we noticed in her first performance; and, except one or two slight infringements on probability, has committed none that appear to us to demand censure. We wish that the celebrity of Mr. Beresford's publication (see our Vol. II. p. 632) may tend to procure for the present, the wide circulation which it deserves: and that the seasonable improvement which our fair author has made of the subject of human miseries, may prevent an abuse of the ingenious work here intended, to which it was obviously liable, and has, we believe, been perverted, to an injurious de-* gree. More Miseries have already been intruded on public, (Vol. II. p. 1045.) and since that time, they have become under various titles, an important branch of the commerce of Paternoster Row. Mr. Beresford, also, has published a second volume, by which he has contrived to reduce into one class, his lenient friends and carping enemies. To a repetition of the "Antidote," we feel no objection; as we are inuch satisfied with the portion of it that has been administered, and think, that a farther application might be both ac
ceptable and useful. Hitherto, we have not been able to discover why Miss Rachel's name was exhibited on the title-page. If the author means to introduce her into other scenes of life, we do not doubt her capacity of performing it to advantage.
Art. XII. A Letter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade; addressed to the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of Yorkshire. By W. Wilberforce, Esq. 8vo. pp. 396. Price 6s. Cadell and Co. Hatchard. 1807. THIS Letter is a succinct and clear epitome of the whole
argument between the defenders of the slave trade, and the advocates for the abolition. The work possesses uncommon, merit and interest. No man could command better sources of information than the truly benevolent author; in compiling this summary, he has displayed those vigorous powers, and maintained that noble, chaste, and spirited style of eloquence, on which his reputation as a writer has long been substantially founded; and his subject was the most important that a statesman and a philanthropist could select. The statements which from time to time have been communicated to the public, of the enormities and horrors of this abominable traffic, have raised a general and an indignant murmur against it. In the sentiments of the nation, it has been long since abolished; and the recent act of the British Parliament on the subject, has, with the exception of a few interested merchants, and narrow politicians, diffused among all classes of the community, the most heartfelt joy and gratitude. It was the exultation of one who had long endeavoured to exert his diseased and paralysed organs, at the moment when he finds his power equal to his will, and, by one effort, performs an act of long retarded justice, gratifies his benevolent feelings, and rescues his character from reproach. To the object of curing this • national impotence, Mr. W. has devoted a large and most valuable portion of his life; to deny that the arguments and statements which he and his friends have produced, have been very useful and absolutely necessary to effect this great purpose, would be as absurd, as to imagine that they were of themselves sufficient to accomplish it; or as to mistake this interyal of health and this glorious exercise of legitimate functions, for the cure of all radical indisposition in the body politic.
Mr. W. published his letter before the question came for the last time before Parliament; concerning his object in presenting it to his constituents, he shall speak for himself, for no person can speak better.
Of all the motives by which I am prompted to address you, that which operates on me with the greatest force is, the consideration of the present state and prospects of our country, and of the duty which at so critical a "VOL. III.
moment presses imperiously on every member of the community, to exert his utmost powers in the public cause. That the Almighty Creator of the Universe governs the world which he has made; that the sufferings of nations are to be regarded as the punishment of national crimes; and their decline and fall as the execution of his sentence, are truths which I trust are still generally believed among us. Indeed, to deny them would be directly to contradict. the express and repeated declarations of the holy Scriptures. If these truths be admitted, and if it be also true, that fraud, oppression, and cruelty, are crimes of the blackest dye, and that guilt is aggravated in proportion as the criminal acts in defiance of clearer light, and of stronger motives to virtue; (and these are positions to which we cannot refuse our assent, without rejecting the authority, not only of revealed, but even of natural religion) have we not abundant cause for serious apprehension? The course of public events has, for many years, been such as human wisdom and human force have in vain endeavoured to controul or resist. The counsels of the wise have been infatuated; the valour of the brave has been turned to cowardice. Though the storm has been raging for many years, yet, instead of having ceased, it appears to be now increasing in fury; the clouds which have long been gathering around us, have at length almost overspread the whole face of the heavens with blackness. In this very moment of unexampled difficulty and danger, those great polltical characters, to the counsels of one or the other of whom the nation has been used to look in all public exigencies, have both been taken from us. If such be our condition, and if the slave trade be a national crime, declared by every wise and respectable man of all parties without exception, to be a compound of the grossest wickedness and cruelty, a crime to which we cling in defiance of the clearest light, not only in opposition to our own acknowledgments of its guilt, but even of our own declared resolutions to abandon it; is not this then a time in which all who are not perfectly sure that the providence of God is but a fable, should be strenuous in their endeavours to lighten the vessel of the state, of such a load of guilt and infamy?'
A few pages are occupied in details of the methods by which slaves are procured; of the nature and extent of predatory ex peditions; and of other sources from whence the demands for slaves are supplied. The affecting statements which this part of the work contains, must deeply interest every bosom. The passions, the weaknesses, the superstitions, the crimes, and the misfortunes of Africa, are excited and exhausted in administering to the support of slavery; and this authorised, this darling branch of British commerce, is the shameful instrument, which inflames almost to madness the vilest propensities of the savage breast, which embroils neighbours and countrymen in perpetual warfare, which destroys the social feelings, which pollutes the fountain of justice, which engenders suspicion and treachery in the common intercourse of life, and gives to the appetite of cruelty an unbounded gratification. The deplorable consequences of this traffic to Africa, are pathetically represented. Through its wide extent, there is no
security of person or property, and civilization is rendered impracticable; by continuing it, says Mr. W. we lock up the whole of that vast Continent in its present state of wretchedness and darkness.
Our author then proceeds to shew that the slave trade must be abolished by us, or that Africa cannot expect any natural termination of her sufferings from the gradual progress of improvement, which has, in some other instances, put a period to a less extended traffic in countries differently situated. He then considers our aggravated guilt, as the prime agents in the traffic of blood. Here Mr. W. is at home, and it would be well for our nation to lay the subject seriously to heart. Our limits forbid quotation, but we strenuously recommend this part of the volume to the attention of all ranks in the community, and especially to those who have influence. In several subsequent pages, Mr. W. proceeds to support his assertions by evidence, which is generally, we think, incon, trovertible. He next considers the contrary evidence of the slave dealers, and shews that it has been decisively refuted. Much more at length he states, and refutes, the pleas against immediate or ultimate abolition, as they have successively been urged in the House of Commons. He divides this part of the subject into two branches; the African, and the West Indian. Under the African branch of the subject, Mr. W. first considers the plea that the negroes occupy an inferior station in the scale of being, to the rational part of creation. The discussion of this point employs a considerable portion of the book. If the possession (as it is stated) of a character combining all that is base and ignorant, with all that is ferocious and brutal, be sufficient to degrade the uncivilised Africans below the rank of humanity, what shall we say of European Captains of slave ships, and the well dressed miscreants who employ them! What epithet sufficiently expressive of ignominy can be invented, for the character of mercenary promoters of ignorance, slavery, and distress, in such a country as England!— for hearts, the sluggish morass of depravity so essentially corrupt and putrescent, that even the blessed light of religious truth, and the culture of civilised society, have never been able to convert them to the welfare of man, but which remain an irreclaimable opprobrium to the moral creation, a loathed source of destruction to the utmost limit of their influence. When such persons pretend to reason away the humanity of the Africans, on the ground of stupidity and cruelty, they forfeit their own.
Another argument of the friends to slavery, Mr. W. answers and refutes with great ability; namely, that the negroes were in a worse state of slavery at home.
For this and other purposes he collects extracts from the best travellers, especially from the excellent Park, in his appendix. He then proceeds to the West Indian division of the subject; pursues the adversaries of the abolition over a wide extent of discussion, detects the fallacy of their reasoning, disputes their statements of facts, and answers all their objections with that patient industry and persevering zeal, which having undertaken the cause of Africa, would forsake it only with the functions and employments of mortality. Under this division, the curious reader will find much interesting matter. The great objection of the planters, that the stock of slaves necessary in the West Indies cannot be kept up without importation, is clearly and satisfactorily answered. Mr. W. proves that the increase of slaves without importation, has always been a subordinate object with the planters, because on the cool calculations of arithmetical humanity, they resolved that it was cheaper to buy than to breed. He points out the methods by which the condition of the slave might be ameliorated, recommends the correction of abuses, the removing of powerful checks to population, and rationally predicts, that under such a system, importation will be no longer necessary. His remarks on the probable effects of religious instruction, deserve to be transcribed.
No efforts have been made for the religious instruction and moral improvement of the negroes, and any plans of that kind when adopted by others, have been considered as chimerical, if not dangerous. This is the more extraordinary, because an example on a large scale has been of late years furnished in the little Danish Islands, and in one settlement at least, of our smaller Islands, of the happiest effects resulting from such endeavours; so that men of great knowledge and experience in West Indian affairs, in estimating the effects of the labours of the Missionaries, who were employed in this benevolent service, by a pecuniary standard, declared, that a slave, by becoming one of their converts, was worth half as much more than his former value, on account of his superior morality, sobriety, industry, subordination, and general good conduct.' pp. 124, 125.
A very large portion of this volume is devoted to considering the degradation of the negro race by slavery; and its important consequences are stated with force and feeling. It is truly awful and astonishing, that with such facts before them, a British Parliament should have hesitated one moment, to abolish a system which has been the most fruitful parent of crime and calamity, that ever found access to the habitations of man.
Before Mr. W. proceeds to a recital of circumstances which, chill the blood with horror, and "make each particular hair to stand on end," he vindicates himself, we think needlessly, from the charge of invidiousness toward the West India proprietors. For these affecting details, and for satisfaction