Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

March the 15th. (1775) At four this afternoon, the sun then shining bright, a total darkness commenced in an instant, when a dreadful consternation seized every person in the city, the people running backward and forward in the streets, tumbling over one another, quite distracted, while those in the houses ran out in amazement, doubting whether it were an eclipse, or the end of the world. Soon after the black cloud which hađ caused this total darkness approached near the city preceded by as loud a noise as I ever heard in the greatest storm; this was succeeded by such a whirlwind, mixt with dust, that no man in the stree's could stand upon his legs; happy were those who could find, or had already obtained, shelter, whilst those who were not so fortunate were obliged to throw themselves down on the spot, where they ran great risk of being suffocated, as the wind lasted full twenty minutes, and the total darkness half an hour. The dust was so subtile, and the hurricane so furious, that every room in the British factory was covered with it, notwithstanding we had the precaution to shut the doors and windows on the first appearance of the darkness. and to light candles. At half past five the cloud had passed the city, the sun instantly shone out, no wind was to be heard, nor dust felt, but all was quite serene and calm again, when all of us in the factory went on the terrace, and observed the cloud had entirely passed over the river, and was then in Persia, where it seemed to cover full thirty miles in breadth on the land, but how far in length could not be even guessed at; it flew along at an amazing rate, yet was half an hour in passing over the city. It came from the north-west, and went straight forward to the south-east. officers of the company's cruizers came on shore as soon as the cloud had past their ships, and declared that the wind was so violent, and the dust so penetrating, that no man could stand upon the decks ; and that after it was over, every place below, on board the ships, was covered with dust. Such a phenomenon never was known before, in the memory of the oldest man now living at Bussora'. p. 164.


We conclude with copying Mr. P.'s account of the Gentoo hospital for animals at Surat: we should hope the reflection comprised in the concluding sentence is not to be strictly taken, though it is highly probable from the known absurdities and inconsistencies of Heathen morals.

During my stay at Surat, I rode out most evenings with our worthy chief; and, among other uncommon sights to a stranger, I took notice that many trees had jars hanging to several of the boughs; on enquiring I was told that they were filled with water every evening by men hired on purpose by the Gentoos, in order to supply the birds with drink.

This account excited a desire of visiting the Banyan hospital, as I had heard much of their benevolence to all kinds of animals that were either sick, lame, or infirm through age or accident. On my arrival, there were presented to my view many horses, cows, and oxen in one apartment; in another dogs, sheep, goats, and monkeys, with clean straw for them to repose on. Above stairs were depositories for seeds of many sorts, and flat broad dishes for water, for the use of those birds and insects which might chance to come into the apartment through the windows, which were lat ticed, with apertures large enough to admit small birds to enter.

I was told by the attendant, that each apartment was cleaned every

morning, the beasts fed and littered once a day, the seeds above stairs winnowed, the dishes washed, and clean water put in them daily; yet, with all their kindness to the brute species, I am assured by many persons of good credit, that the Gentoos will not bestow half the compassion on the human species in distress, though they should chance to be of their own Cast, or their near relations',

From these extracts, it will be evident that the work is not deficient in curious and amusing details, though it has lost much of its value by keeping; to many readers a large proportion of it will be new, and to all we can recommend it as authentic,

Art. VIII. The History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-trade by the British Parliament. By Thomas Clarkson, M. A. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 1180. Price 11. 4s. Longman and Co. 1808.

MANY of us, in different parts of this kingdom, have had the opportunity of witnessing the exertions of Mr. Clarkson, in behalf of the liberties of Africa; we have admired the benevolent energy of his character, and appreciated the importance of his services. He is also known to the public at large, as a powerful advocate in this glorious cause, by several masterly and convincing publications. But a considerable number of our readers, and especially the junior ones, are possibly not aware that to the author of this work a greater share of the honour unquestionably belongs, than to any other person, unless one perhaps should be excepted, of having procured the Abolition of the Slave Trade. It is true, he has not raised his voice in the senate; he has not wielded the authority of a Premier, nor directed the "sweet influences" of the Treasury. But in his youth he dedicated himself to this holy work of humanity with disinterested and heroic enthusiasm ; he has applied his whole life and being to it, with a perennial and unquenchable zeal of which there is scarcely a parallel in the annals of man; and he has contributed to its interests an immensity of bodily toil and intellectual effort, which elevates him, in point of actual service, above all competition from his most illustrions éoadjutors. Of the extent of that service in procuring evidence and arousing the public mind, of the numerous and almost perpetual journies he engaged in for these purposes, of the multitudes whom he solicited and interrogated, of the documents he examined, the perils he encountered, and, in addition to all this, of the obloquy, the mortification, and the disappointment he resolutely endured, our readers could form no just conception from any statement that our limits would allow. In deducing it from a perusal of these volumes, they will be surprised at the dignity to which a character of secon

dary endowments may advance by a rectitude of aim and a diligence of labour; they will be delighted with the gentleness which the strenuous energy never violates; and they will feel it an honour to their country to have produced the individual, who has deserved so well of human kind, whose example will be cited to future ages as a model of benevolent heroism and a proof of its amazing powers, whose memory will be enshrined in the hearts of nations, and whose name will be pronounced by successions of races with that reverent and affectionate complacency, which we feel in saying, Howard.

A regard to due brevity, and a confident expectation of the general diffusion of this work, induce us to decline attempting an abstract of the information it comprises. We shall attempt little more than giving the outline of its plan, selecting a few specimens of its contents, and hinting at some reflections which it seems particularly adapted to suggest.

The historical form of these volumes is in some respects advantageous to their interest, and in others detrimental. The atrocities of the bloody traffic lose part of their hideousness, and the arguments against it part of their cogency, by their dispersion in different parts of the work, according to the order of time in which they were severally developed, in the process of obtaining and investigating evidence. There is no individual part in which the entire loathsomeness, or the entire argument, is at once presented to view. This however was not necessary, as it has been very sufficiently done in previ ous publications by Mr. Clarkson and others; and it was impossible for this work to preclude the necessity of consulting others, by embracing the whole of what posterity might wish to possess on the subject, without greatly extending its bulk; -as, for instance, by including in it the Abstract of the Evi dence laid before Parliament. The defect is amply compenstaed by the superior interest which a history possesses, in comparison with an essay. And perhaps there is no other transaction of a general kind, which could so deeply engage the concern and anxiety of a reader in the progressive events which gradually conduced to its accomplishment. Indeed the attention is very much concentrated to a certain point, and the feeling proportionally excited, by the prominence of one character in the history; the zeal and activity of Mr. Clarkson make him the hero of the narrative, and impart to it a biographical attraction in addition to its historical importance; we feel a sympathy with the individual which it is impossible to feel with a multitude, and which at the same time is augmented and ennobled by the reflection, that he is the representative of a quarter of the globe, and that in his successes and disappointments are involved, to an incalculable extent, the honour of our nature and the happiness of our kind.

Mr. C. apologizes for the egotism, which as the historian of his own exertions it has been necessary for him to admit, with a scrupulousness that we do not quite like. We have too high an opinion of him, to suppose that the desire of human applause was in any considerable proportion a motive to his extraordinary labours; and we are persuaded that he makes very little account of attaining it, while contemplating their glorious result. The innumerable and unutterable sensations of delight that expand the breast of a successful philanthropist, the extatic sympathies with the benefitted, the sublime consciousness of having created and diffused happiness, of having enriched the human race, of having received the assistance of heaven, promoted its cause, and possessed its favour, cannot leave to him the capability of listening for the applauses of men. Mankind have not preserved to themselves one mode of expressing gratitude, undishonoured by an ignoble appropriation : the obstreperous and the monumental honours which have been shared by such vermin and filth as conquerors and buffoons, may justly be disdained by a pure and dignified virtue. So lofty a character, in our view, is the hero of a divine morality'; so much superior is he to the drudges of a cheating ambition, that the object, which to their little souls appears high enough to claim every service and sacrifice, is too mean to excite his ac tivity, obtain his acceptance, or deserve his regard. We there fore protest against any man like Mr. Clarkson paying so much deference to the fastidiousness and envy of the world,as to deprecate and repel an imputation of indecent vanity which not candid or considerate mind would ever think of attaching to him. If Mr. C. had indeed been covetous of praise, he would have had good reason for declining the task his own merits rendered dangerous, beside the expediency of avoiding the imputation. Any other person, supplied with the necessary information, would have been required by common justice and the public sentiment to decorate the character he had to exhibit with such a profusion and splendour of panegyric, as few would have had the merit to deserve, or the delicacy to forego; but in telling his own story, Mr. C. incurred an obligation to admit nothing regarding himself but a plain detail of facts, to the entire exclusion of all those epithets and phrases of compliment, which might justly be expected from an advocate; and even in the sober character of witness, we are afraid he is chargeable with saying too little rather than too much.

The work is properly distributed into chapters, of which the first is introductory: it is intended to display the evil of the Slave Trade, and to explain the circumstances that protected it from abolition. The second traces its history, and gives an ac count of the opposition made to it at first and at every subse


quent period by various eminent persons, who are justly considered as forerunners and coadjutors in the exertions to procure its abolition among these are Ximenes, Leo X, Charles V, Queen Elizabeth, and Lewis XIII. The author continues this account of the resisters of slavery, to 1787, distinguishing them into four classes. The first comprises those writers who expressly or incidentally had assisted in rousing the public sentiment against this traffic; among whom are Godwyn, Baxter, Warburton, Montesquieu, Thomson, and many others consecu tively, to the time when it gained an important accession in the truly venerable and excellent Granville Sharp The great exertions of this first eminent champion for the violated rights of human nature, are detailed in a very interesting narrative. In pursuance of an opinion given, contrary to the popular notion, by York and Talbot, the attorney and solicitor general, in 1729, that neither baptism nor residence in England emancipated the person of a slave, the miserable wretches who had escaped from their owners, relying on that notion, were advertised in the London papers with offers of rewards for their apprehension; they were seized in the streets, and dragged publicly to their ships, or even exposed to sale. Mr. Sharp, having interested himself in behalf of several of these unhappy men, engaged in the study of the law expressly in order to refute the slavish opinion; demonstrated its unsoundness in an excellent essay, and at length succeeded in procuring the solemn and deliberate determination of the maxim, by the highest judicial authorities, That as soon as ever any slave set his foot in England, he became free. To him we owe the exultation of saying, in the memorable words of Cowper,

Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs

"Receive our air, that moment they are free

[ocr errors]

They touch our country, and their shackles fall!"

To him,' (says Mr. C.) we owe it, that we no longer see our public papers polluted by hateful advertisements of the sale of the human species, or that we are no longer distressed by the perusal of impious rewards for bringing back the poor and the helpless into slavery, or that we are prohi. bited the disgusting spectacle of seeing man bought by his fellow-man.To him, in short, we owe this restoration of the beauty of our constitution-this prevention of the continuance of our national disgrace.' p. 79.

The enumeration of individuals in this class, including Hutcheson, Robertson, Millar, Beattie, Paley, Raynal, Ramsay, Porteus, and many others, closes with the name of the illustrious poet we have just cited.

The second class consists of the Quakers in England,' who, from the time of Fox himself had opposed the trade, and who in the middle of the last century, by their yearly meeting, forcibly protested against the principle of it, and

« AnteriorContinuar »