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The History of the Rise, Progress and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave Trade by the British Parliament (1808), Vol. I by Thomas Clarkson

Part 4 out of 5

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irons and, seizing him, struck him with the bolt of them, and it was with
some difficulty that he was extricated from them by the crew.

The men-slaves, unable now to punish him, and finding they had created an
alarm, began to proceed to extremities. They endeavoured to force
themselves up the gratings, and to pull down a partition which had been
made for a sick-birth; when they were fired upon and repressed. The next
morning they were brought up one by one; when it appeared that a boy had
been killed, who was afterwards thrown into the sea.

The two men, however, who had forced themselves out of irons, did not come
up with the rest, but found their way into the hold, and armed themselves
with knives from a cask, which had been opened for trade. One of them being
called to in the African tongue by a Black trader, who was then on board,
came up, but with a knife in each hand; when one of the crew, supposing him
yet hostile, shot him in the right side and killed him on the spot.

The other remained in the hold for twelve hours. Scalding water mixed with
fat was poured down upon him, to make him come up. Though his flesh was
painfully blistered by these means, he kept below. A promise was then made
to him in the African tongue by the same trader, that no injury should be
done him, if he would come among them. To this at length he consented. But
on observing, when he was about half way up, that a sailor was armed
between decks, he flew to him, and clasped him, and threw him down. The
sailor fired his pistol in the scuffle, but without effect. He contrived
however to fracture his skull with the butt end of it, so that the slave
died on the third day.

The second circumstance took place after the arrival of the same vessel at
St. Vincent's. There was a boy-slave on board, who was very ill and
emaciated. The mate, who, by his cruelty, had been the author of the former
mischief, did not choose to expose him to sale with the rest, lest the
small sum he would fetch in that situation should lower the average price,
and thus bring down[A] the value of the privileges of the officers of the
ship. This boy was kept on board, and no provisions allowed him. The mate
had suggested the propriety of throwing him overboard, but no one would do
it. On the ninth day he expired, having never been allowed any sustenance
during that time.

[Footnote A: Officers are said to be allowed the privilege of one or more
slaves, according to their rank. When the cargo is sold, the sum total
fetched is put down, and this being divided by the number of slaves sold,
gives the average price of each. Such officers, then, receive this average
price for one or more slaves, according to their privileges, but never the
slaves themselves.]

I asked Mr. Arnold if he was willing to give evidence of these facts in
both cases. He said he had only one objection, which was, that in two or
three days he was to go in the Ruby, on his third voyage: but on leaving
me, he said, that he would take an affidavit before the mayor of the truth
of any of those things which he had related to me, if that would do; but,
from motives of safety, he should not choose to do this till within a few
hours before he sailed.

In two or three days after this, he sent for me. He said the Ruby would
leave King-road the next day, and that he was ready to do as he had
promised. Depositions were accordingly made out from his own words. I went
with him to the residence of George Daubeny, esquire, who was then chief
magistrate of the city, and they were sworn to in his presence, and
witnessed as the law requires.

On taking my leave of him, I asked him how he could go a third time in such
a barbarous employ. He said he had been distressed. In his voyage in the
Alexander he had made nothing; for he had been so ill-used, that he had
solicited his discharge in Grenada, where, being paid in currency, he had
but little to receive. When he arrived in Bristol from that island, he was
quite pennyless; and finding the Little Pearl going out, he was glad to get
on board her as her surgeon, which he then did entirely for the sake of
bread. He said, moreover, that she was but a small vessel, and that his
savings had been but small in her. This occasioned him to apply for the
Ruby, his present ship; but if he survived this voyage he would never go
another. I then put the same question to him as to Gardiner, and he
promised to keep a journal of facts, and to give his evidence, if called
upon, on his return.

The reader will see, from this account, the difficulty I had in procuring
evidence from this port. The owners of vessels employed in the trade there,
forbade all intercourse with me. The old captains, who had made their
fortunes in it, would not see me. The young, who were making them, could
not be supposed to espouse my cause, to the detriment of their own
interest. Of those whose necessities made them go into it for a livelihood,
I could not get one to come forward, without doing so much for him as would
have amounted to bribery. Thus, when I got one of these into my possession,
I was obliged to let him go again. I was, however, greatly consoled by the
consideration, that I had procured two sentinels to be stationed in the
enemy's camp, who keeping a journal of different facts, would bring me some
important intelligence at a future period.


_Author goes to Monmouth--confers relative to a petition from that
place--returns to Bristol--is introduced to Alexander Falconbridge--takes
one of the mates of the Africa out of that ship--visits disabled seamen
from the ship Thomas--puts a chief mate into prison for the murder of
William Lines--Ill-usage of seamen in various other slave-vessels--secures
Crutwell's Bath paper in favour of the abolition--lays the foundation of a
commitee at Bristol--and of a petition from thence also--takes his leave of
that city._

By this time I began to feel the effect of my labours upon my constitution.
It had been my practice to go home in the evening to my lodgings, about
twelve o'clock, and then to put down the occurrences of the day. This
usually kept me up till one, and sometimes till nearly two in the morning.
When I went my rounds in Marsh-street, I seldom got home till two, and into
bed till three. My clothes, also, were frequently wet through with the
rains. The cruel accounts I was daily in the habit of hearing, both with
respect to the slaves, and to the seamen employed in this wicked trade,
from which, indeed, my mind had no respite, often broke my sleep in the
night, and occasioned me to awake in an agitated state. All these
circumstances concurred in affecting my health. I looked thin; my
countenance became yellow. I had also rheumatic feelings. My friends,
seeing this, prevailed upon me to give myself two or three days'
relaxation. And as a gentleman, of whom I had some knowledge, was going
into Carmarthenshire, I accompanied him as far as Monmouth.

After our parting at this place, I became restless and uneasy, and longed
to get back to my work. I thought, however, that my journey ought not to be
wholly useless to the cause; and hearing that Dr. Davis, a clergyman at
Monmouth, was a man of considerable weight among the inhabitants, I took
the liberty of writing him a letter, in which I stated who I was, and the
way in which I had lately employed myself, and the great wish I had to be
favoured with an interview with him; and I did not conceal that it would be
very desirable, if the inhabitants of the place could have that information
on the subject which would warrant them in so doing, that they should
petition the legislature for the abolition of the Slave-trade. Dr. Davis
returned me an answer, and received me. The questions which he put to me
were judicious. He asked me, first, whether, if the slaves were
emancipated, there would not be much confusion in the islands? I told him
that the emancipation of them was no part of our plan. We solicited nothing
but the stopping of all future importations of them into the islands. He
then asked what the planters would do for labourers. I replied, they would
find sufficient from an increase of the native population, if they were
obliged to pay attention to the latter means. We discoursed a long time
upon this last topic. I have not room to give the many other questions he
proposed to me. No one was ever more judiciously questioned. In my turn, I
put him into possession of all the discoveries I had made. He acknowledged
the injustice of the trade. He confessed, also, that my conversation had
enlightened him as to the impolicy of it; and, taking some of my Summary
Views to distribute, he said, he hoped that the inhabitants would, after
the perusal of them, accede to my request.

On my return to Bristol, my friends had procured for me an interview with
Mr. Alexander Falconbridge, who had been to the coast of Africa, as a
surgeon, for four voyages; one in the Tartar, another in the Alexander, and
two in the Emilia slave-vessels.

On my introduction to him, I asked him if he had any objection to give me
an account of the cruelties, which were said to be connected with the
Slave-trade. He answered, without any reserve, that he had not; for that he
had now done with it. Never were any words more welcome to my ears than
these--"Yes--I have done with the trade"--and he said also, that he was
free to give me information concerning it. Was he not then one of the very
persons, whom I had so long been seeking, but in vain?

To detail the accounts which he gave me at this and at subsequent
interviews, relative to the different branches of this trade, would fill no
ordinary volume. Suffice it to say in general terms, as far as relates to
the slaves, that he confirmed the various violent and treacherous methods
of procuring them in their own country; their wretched condition, in
consequence of being crowded together, in the passage; their attempts to
rise in defence of their own freedom, and, when this was impracticable, to
destroy themselves by the refusal of sustenance, by jumping overboard into
the sea, and in other ways; the effect also of their situation upon their
minds, by producing insanity and various diseases; and the cruel manner of
disposing of them in the West Indies, and of separating relatives and

With respect to the seamen employed in this trade, he commended captain
Frazer for his kind usage to them, under whom he had so long served. The
handsome way in which be spoke of the latter pleased me much, because I was
willing to deduce from it his own impartiality, and because I thought I
might infer from it also his regard to truth as to other parts of his
narrative. Indeed I had been before acquainted with this circumstance.
Thompson, of the Seven Stars, had informed me that Frazer was the only man
sailing out of that port for slaves, who had not been guilty of cruelty to
his seamen: and Mr. Burges alluded to it, when he gave me advice not to
proceed against the captain of the Alfred; for he then said, as I mentioned
in a former chapter, "that he knew but one captain in the trade, who did
not deserve long ago to be hanged." Mr. Falconbridge, however, stated, that
though he had been thus fortunate in the Tartar and Emilia, he had been as
unfortunate in the Alexander; for he believed there were no instances upon
naval record, taken altogether, of greater barbarity, than of that which
had been exercised towards the seamen in this voyage. In running over
these, it struck me that I had heard of the same from some other quarter,
or at least that these were so like the others, that I was surprised at
their coincidence. On taking out my notes, I looked for the names of those
whom I recollected to have been used in this manner; and on desiring Mr.
Falconbridge to mention the names of those also to whom he alluded, they
turned out to be the same. The mystery, however, was soon cleared up, when
I told him from whom I had received my intelligence: for Mr. Arnold, the
last-mentioned person in the last chapter, had been surgeon's mate under
Mr. Falconbridge in the same vessel.

There was one circumstance of peculiar importance, but quite new to me,
which I collected from the information which Mr. Falconbridge had given me.
This was, that many of the seamen, who left the slave-ships in the West
Indies, were in such a weak, ulcerated, and otherwise diseased state, that
they perished there. Several also of those who came home with the vessels,
were in the same deplorable condition. This was the case, Mr. Falconbridge
said, with some who returned in the Alexander. It was the case also with
many others; for he had been a pupil, for twelve months, in the Bristol
Infirmary, and had had ample means of knowing the fact. The greatest number
of seamen, at almost all times, who were there, were from the
slave-vessels. These, too, were usually there on account of disease,
whereas those from other ships were usually there on account of accidents.
The health of some of the former was so far destroyed, that they were never
wholly to be restored. This information was of great importance; for it
showed that they who were reported dead upon the muster-rolls, were not all
that were lost to the country by the prosecution of this wicked trade.
Indeed, it was of so much importance, that in all my future interviews with
others, which were for the purpose of collecting evidence, I never forgot
to make it a subject of inquiry.

I can hardly say how precious I considered the facts with which Mr.
Falconbridge had furnished me from his own experience, relative to the
different branches of this commerce. They were so precious, that I began
now to be troubled lest I should lose them. For, though he had thus
privately unbosomed himself to me, it did not follow that he would come
forward as a public evidence. I was not a little uneasy on this account. I
was fearful lest, when I should put this question to him, his future plan
of life, or some little narrow consideration of future interest, would
prevent him from giving his testimony, and I delayed asking him for many
days. During this time, however, I frequently visited him; and at length,
when I thought I was better acquainted, and probably in some little
estimation, with him, I ventured to open my wishes on this subject. He
answered me boldly, and at once, that he had left the trade upon principle,
and that he would state all he knew concerning it, either publicly or
privately, and at any time when he should be called upon to do it. This
answer produced such an effect upon me, after all my former
disappointments, that I felt it all over my frame. It operated like a
sudden shock, which often disables the impressed person for a time. So the
joy I felt rendered me quite useless, as to business, for the remainder of
the day.

I began to perceive in a little time the advantage of having cultivated an
acquaintance with Thompson of the Seven Stars. For nothing could now pass
in Bristol, relative to the seamen employed in this trade, but it was soon
brought to me. If there was any thing amiss, I had so arranged matters that
I was sure to hear of it. He sent for me one day to inform me that several
of the seamen, who had been sent out of Marsh-street into the Prince, which
was then at Kingroad, and on the point of sailing to Africa for slaves,
had, through fear of ill-usage on the voyage, taken the boat and put
themselves on shore. He informed me at the same time that the seamen of the
Africa, which was lying there also and ready to sail on a like voyage, were
not satisfied, for that they had been made to sign their articles of
agreement, without being permitted to see them. To this he added that Mr.
Sheriff, one of the mates of the latter vessel, was unhappy also on this
account. Sheriff had been a mate in the West India trade, and was a
respectable man in his line. He had been enticed by the captain of the
Africa, under the promise of peculiar advantages, to change his voyage.
Having a wife and family at Bristol, he was willing to make a sacrifice on
their account. But when he himself was not permitted to read the articles,
he began to suspect bad work, and that there would be nothing but misery in
the approaching voyage. Thompson entreated me to extricate him, if I could.
He was sure, he said, if he went to the Coast with that man, meaning the
captain, that he would never return alive.

I was very unwilling to refuse any thing to Thompson. I was deeply bound to
him in gratitude for the many services he had rendered me, but I scarcely
saw how I could serve him on this occasion. I promised however, to speak to
him in an hour's time; I consulted my friend Truman Harford in the interim;
and the result was, that he and I should proceed to Kingroad in a boat, go
on board the Africa, and charge the captain in person with what he had
done, and desire him to discharge Sheriff, as no agreement, where fraud or
force was used in the signatures, could be deemed valid. If we were not
able to extricate Sheriff by these means, we thought that at least we
should know, by inquiring of those whom we should see on board, whether the
measure of hindering the men from seeing their articles on signing them had
been adopted. It would be useful to ascertain this, because such a measure
had been long reported to be usual in this, but was said to be unknown in
any other trade.

Having passed the river's mouth and rowed towards the sea, we came near the
Prince first, but pursued our destination to the Africa. Mr. Sheriff was
the person who received us on board. I did not know him till I asked his
name. I then told him my errand, with which he seemed to be much pleased.
On asking him to tell the captain that I wished to speak with him, he
replied that he was on shore. This put me to great difficulty, as I did not
know then what to do. I consulted with Truman Harford, and it was our
opinion, that we should inquire of the seamen, but in a very quiet manner,
by going individually to each, if they had ever demanded to see the
articles on signing them, and if they had been refused. We proposed this
question to them. They replied, that the captain had refused them in a
savage manner, making use of threats and oaths. There was not one
contradictory voice on this occasion. We then asked Mr. Sheriff what we
were to do. He entreated us by all means to take him on shore. He was sure
that under such a man as the captain, and particularly after the
circumstance of our coming on board should be made known to him, he would
never come from the coast of Africa alive. Upon this, Truman Harford called
me aside, and told me the danger of taking an officer from the ship; for
that, if any accident should happen to her, the damage might all fall upon
me. I then inquired of Mr. Sheriff if there was any officer on board, who
could manage the ship. He pointed one out to me, and I spoke to him in the
cabin. This person told me I need be under no apprehension about the
vessel, but that every one would be sorry to lose Mr. Sheriff. Upon this
ground, Truman Harford, who had felt more for me than for himself, became
now easy. We had before concluded, that the obtaining any signature by
fraud or force would render the agreement illegal. We therefore joined in
opinion, that we might take away the man. His chest was accordingly put
into our boat. We jumped into it with our rowers, and he followed us,
surrounded by the seamen, all of whom took an affectionate leave of him,
and expressed their regret at parting. Soon after this there was a general
cry of "Will you take me too?" from the deck; and such a sudden movement
appeared there, that we were obliged to push off directly from the side,
fearing that many would jump into our boat and go with us.

After having left the ship, Sheriff corroborated the desertion of the
seamen from the Prince, as before related to me by Thompson. He spoke also
of the savage disposition of his late captain, which he had even dared to
manifest though lying in an English port. I was impressed by this account
of his rough manners; and the wind having risen before and the surf now
rolling heavily, I began to think what an escape I might have had; how easy
it would have been for the savage captain, if he had been on board, or for
any one at his instigation, to have pushed me over the ship's side. This
was the first time I had ever considered the peril of the undertaking. But
we arrived safe; and though on the same evening I left my name at the
captain's house, as that of the person who had taken away his mate, I never
heard more about it.

In pursuing my inquiries into the new topic suggested by Mr. Falconbridge,
I learnt that two of three of the seamen of the ship Thomas, which had been
arrived now nearly a year from the Coast, were in a very crippled and
deplorable state. I accordingly went to see them. One of them had been
attacked by a fever, arising from circumstances connected with these
voyages. The inflammation, which had proceeded from it, had reached his
eyes. It could not be dispersed; and the consequence was, that he was then
blind. The second was lame. He had badly ulcerated legs, and appeared to be
very weak. The third was a mere spectre. I think he was the most pitiable
object I ever saw. I considered him as irrecoverably gone. They all
complained to me of their bad usage on board the Thomas. They said they had
heard of my being in Bristol, and they hoped I would not leave it, without
inquiring into the murder of William Lines.

On inquiring who William Lines was, they informed me that he had been one
of the crew of the same ship, and that all on board believed that he had
been killed by the chief mate; but they themselves had not been present
when the blows were given him. They had not seen him till afterwards; but
their shipmates had told them of his cruel treatment, and they knew that
soon afterwards he had died.

In the course of the next day, the mother of Lines, who lived in Bristol,
came to me and related the case. I told her there was no evidence as to the
fact, for that I had seen three seamen, who could not speak to it from
their own knowledge. She said, there were four others then in Bristol who
could. I desired her to fetch them. When they arrived I examined each
separately, and cross-examined them in the best manner I was able. I could
find no variation in their account, and I was quite convinced that the
murder had taken place. The mother was then importunate that I should take
up the case. I was too much affected by the narration I had heard to refuse
her wholly, and yet I did not promise that I would. I begged a little time
to consider of it. During this I thought of consulting my friend Burges.
But I feared he would throw cold water upon it, as he had done in the case
of the captain of the Alfred. I remembered well what he had then said to
me, and yet I felt a strong disposition to proceed. For the trade was still
going on. Every day, perhaps, some new act of barbarity was taking place.
And one example, if made, might counteract the evil for a time. I seemed,
therefore to incline to stir in this matter, and thought, if I should get
into any difficulty about it, it would be better to do it without
consulting Mr. Burges, than, after having done it, to fly as it were in his
face. I then sent for the woman, and told her, that she might appear with
the witnesses at the Common Hall, where the magistrates usually sat on a
certain day.

We all met at the time appointed, and I determined to sit as near to the
mayor as I could get. The hall was unusually crowded. One or two
slave-merchants, and two or three others, who were largely concerned in the
West India trade, were upon the bench. For I had informed the mayor the day
before of my intention, and he, it appeared, had informed them. I shall
never forget the savage looks which these people gave me; which indeed were
so remarkable, as to occasion the eyes of the whole court to be turned upon
me. They looked as if they were going to speak to me, and the people looked
as if they expected me to say something in return. They then got round the
mayor, and began to whisper to him, as I supposed, on the business before
it should come on. One of them, however, said aloud to the former, but
fixing his eyes upon me, and wishing me to overhear him, "Scandalous
reports had lately been spread, but sailors were not used worse in
Guineamen than in other vessels." This brought the people's eyes upon me
again. I was very much irritated, but I thought it improper to say any
thing. Another, looking savagely at me, said to the mayor, "that he had
known captain Vicars a long time; that he was an honourable man[A], and
would not allow such usage in his ship. There were always vagabonds to
hatch up things:" and he made a dead point at me, by putting himself into a
posture which attracted the notice of those present, and by staring me in
the face, I could now no longer restrain myself, and I said aloud in as
modest a manner as I could, "You, sir, may know many things which I do not.
But this I know, that if you do not do your duty, you are amenable to a
higher court." The mayor upon this looked at me, and directly my friend Mr.
Burges, who was sitting as the clerk to the magistrates, went to him and
whispered something in his ear; after which all private conversation
between the mayor and others ceased, and the hearing was ordered to come

[Footnote A: We may well imagine what this person's notion of another man's
honour was; for he was the purser of the Brothers and of the Alfred, who,
as before mentioned, sent the captains of those ships out a second voyage,
after knowing their barbarities in the former. And he was also the purser
of this very ship Thomas, where the murder had been committed. I by no
means, however, wish by these observations to detract from the character of
captain Vicars, as he had no concern in the cruel deed.]

I shall not detain the reader by giving an account of the evidence which
then transpired. The four witnesses were examined, and the case was so far
clear. Captain Vicars, however, was sent for. On being questioned, he did
not deny that there had been bad usage, but said that the young man had
died of the flux. But this assertion went for nothing when balanced against
the facts which had come out; and this was so evident, that an order was
made out for the apprehension of the chief mate. He was accordingly taken
up. The next day, however, there was a rehearing of the case, when he was
returned to the gaol, where he was to lie till the Lords of the Admiralty
should order a sessions to be held for the trial of offences committed on
the high seas.

This public examination of the case of William Lines, and the way in which
it ended, produced an extraordinary result; for after this time the
slave-captains and mates, who used to meet me suddenly, used as suddenly to
start from me, indeed to the other side of the pavement, as if I had been a
wolf, or tiger, or some dangerous beast of prey. Such of them as saw me
before hand, used to run up the cross streets or lanes, which were nearest
to them, to get away. Seamen, too, came from various quarters to apply to
me for redress. One came to me, who had been treated ill in the Alexander,
when Mr. Falconbridge had been the surgeon of her. Three came to me, who
had been ill-used in the voyage which followed, though she had then sailed
under a new captain. Two applied to me from the Africa, who had been of her
crew in the last voyage. Two from the Fly. Two from the Wasp. One from the
Little Pearl, and three from the Pilgrim or Princess, when she was last
upon the coast.

The different scenes of barbarity, which these represented to me, greatly
added to the affliction of my mind. My feelings became now almost
insupportable. I was agonized to think that this trade should last another
day. I was in a state of agitation from morning till night. I determined I
would soon leave Bristol. I saw nothing but misery in the place. I had
collected now, I believed, all the evidence it would afford; and to stay in
it a day longer than was necessary, would be only an interruption for so
much time both of my happiness and of my health. I determined therefore to
do only two or three things, which I thought to be proper, and to depart in
a few days.

And first I went to Bath, where I endeavoured to secure the respectable
paper belonging to that city in favour of the abolition of the Slave-trade.
This I did entirely to my satisfaction, by relating to the worthy editor
all the discoveries I had made, and by impressing his mind in a forcible
manner on the subject. And it is highly to the honour of Mr. Crutwell, that
from that day he never ceased to defend our cause; that he never made a
charge for insertions of any kind; but that he considered all he did upon
this occasion in the light of a duty, or as his mite given in charity to a
poor and oppressed people.

The next attempt was to lay the foundation of a commitee in Bristol, and of
a petition to Parliament from it for the abolition of the Slave-trade. I
had now made many friends. A gentleman of the name of Paynter had felt
himself much interested in my labours. Mr. Joseph Harford, a man of
fortune, of great respectability of character, and of considerable
influence, had attached himself to the cause. Dr. Fox had assisted me in
it. Mr. Hughes, a clergyman of the Baptist church, was anxious and ready to
serve it; Dr. Camplin, of the Establishment, with several of his friends,
continued steady. Matthew Wright, James Harford, Truman Harford, and all
the Quakers to a man, were strenuous, and this on the best of principles,
in its support. To all these I spoke, and I had the pleasure of seeing that
my wishes were likely in a short time to be gratified in both these cases.

It was now necessary that I should write to the commitee in London. I had
written to them only two letters, during my absence; for I had devoted
myself so much to the great object I had undertaken, that I could think of
little else. Hence some of my friends among them were obliged to write to
different persons at Bristol, to inquire if I was alive. I gave up a day or
two, therefore, to this purpose. I informed the commitee of all my
discoveries in the various branches to which my attention had been
directed, and desired them in return to procure me various official
documents for the port of London, which I then specified. Having done this,
I conferred with Mr. Falconbridge, relative to being with me at Liverpool.
I thought it right to make him no other offer than that his expenses should
be paid. He acceded to my request on these disinterested terms; and I took
my departure from Bristol, leaving him to follow me in a few days.


_Author secures the Glocester paper, and lays the foundation of a petition
from that city--does the same at Worcester--and at Chester--arrives at
Liverpool--collects specimens of African produce--also imports and
exports--and muster-rolls--and accounts of dock-duties--and iron
instruments used in the Slave-trade--His introduction to Mr. Norris, and
others--Author and his errand become known--People visit him out of
curiosity--Frequent controversies on the subject of the Slave-trade._

On my arrival at Glocester, I waited upon my friend Dean Tucker. He was
pleased to hear of the great progress I had made since he left me. On
communicating to him my intention of making interest with the editors of
some provincial papers, to enlighten the public mind, and with the
inhabitants of some respectable places, for petitions to Parliament,
relative to the abolition of the Slave-trade, he approved of it, and
introduced me to Mr. Raikes, the proprietor of the respectable paper
belonging to that city. Mr. Raikes acknowledged, without any hesitation,
the pleasure he should have in serving such a noble cause; and he promised
to grant me, from time to time, a corner in his paper, for such things as I
might point out to him for insertion. This promise he performed afterwards,
without any pecuniary consideration, and solely on the ground of
benevolence. He promised also his assistance as to the other object, for
the promotion of which I left him several of my Summary Views to

At Worcester I trod over the same ground, and with the same success.
Timothy Bevington, of the religious society of the Quakers, was the only
person to whom I had an introduction there. He accompanied me to the mayor,
to the editor of the Worcester paper, and to several others, before each of
whom I pleaded the cause of the oppressed Africans in the best manner I was
able. I dilated both on the inhumanity and on the impolicy of the trade,
which I supported by the various facts recently obtained at Bristol. I
desired, however, as far as petitions were concerned, (and this desire I
expressed on all other similar occasions,) that no attempt should be made
to obtain these, till such information had been circulated on the subject,
that every one, when called upon, might judge, from his knowledge of it,
how far he would feel it right to join in it. For this purpose I left also
here several of my Summary Views for distribution.

After my arrival at Chester, I went to the bishop's residence, but I found
he was not there. Knowing no other person in the place, I wrote a note to
Mr. Cowdroy, whom I understood to be the editor of the Chester paper,
soliciting an interview with him. I explained my wishes to him on both
subjects. He seemed to be greatly rejoiced, when we met, that such a
measure as that of the abolition of the Slave-trade was in contemplation.
Living at so short a distance from Liverpool, and in a county from which so
many persons were constantly going to Africa, he was by no means ignorant,
as some were, of the nature of this cruel traffic; but yet he had no notion
that I had probed it so deeply, or that I had brought to light such
important circumstances concerning it, as he found by my conversation. He
made me a hearty offer of his services on this occasion, and this expressly
without fee or reward. I accepted them most joyfully and gratefully. It
was, indeed, a most important thing, to have a station so near the enemy's
camp, where we could watch their motions, and meet any attack which might
be made from it. And this office of a sentinel Mr. Cowdroy performed with
great vigilance; and when he afterwards left Chester for Manchester, to
establish a paper there, he carried with him the same friendly disposition
towards our cause.

My first introduction at Liverpool was to William Rathbone, a member of the
religious society of the Quakers. He was the same person, who, before the
formation of our commitee, had procured me copies of several of the
muster-rolls of the slave-vessels belonging to that port, so that, though
we were not personally known, yet we were not strangers to each other.
Isaac Hadwen, a respectable member of the same society, was the person whom
I saw next. I had been introduced to him, previously to my journey, when he
was at London, at the yearly meeting of the Quakers, so that no letter to
him was necessary. As Mr. Roscoe had generously given the profits of The
Wrongs of Africa to our commitee, I made no scruple of calling upon him.
His reception of me was very friendly, and he introduced me afterwards to
Dr. Currie, who had written the preface to that poem. There was also a
fourth, upon whom I called, though I did not know him. His name was Edward
Rushton. He had been an officer in a slave-ship, but had lost his sight,
and had become an enemy to that trade. On passing through Chester, I had
heard, for the first time, that he had published a poem called West-Indian
Eclogues, with a view of making the public better acquainted with the evil
of the Slave-trade, and of exciting their indignation against it. Of the
three last it may be observed, that, having come forward thus early, as
labourers, they deserve to be put down, as I have placed them in the map,
among the forerunners and coadjutors in this great cause, for each
published his work before any efforts were made publicly, or without
knowing that any were intended. Rushton, also, had the boldness, though
then living in Liverpool, to affix his name to his work. These were the
only persons whom I knew for some time after my arrival in that place.

It may not, perhaps, be necessary to enter so largely into my proceedings
at Liverpool as at Bristol. The following account, therefore, may suffice.

In my attempts to add to my collection of specimens of African produce, I
was favoured with a sample of gum ruber astringens, of cotton from the
Gambia, of indigo and musk, of long pepper, of black pepper from Whidah, of
mahogany from Calabar, and of cloths of different colours, made by the
natives, which, while they gave other proofs of the quality of their own
cotton, gave proofs also, of the variety of their dyes.

I made interest at the Custom-house for various exports and imports, and
for copies of the muster-rolls of several slave-vessels, besides those of
vessels employed in other trades.

By looking out constantly for information on this great subject, I was led
to the examination of a printed card or table of the dock-duties of
Liverpool, which was published annually. The town of Liverpool had so risen
in opulence and importance, from only a fishing-village, that the
corporation seemed to have a pride in giving a public view of this
increase. Hence they published and circulated this card. Now the card
contained one, among other facts, which was almost as precious, in a
political point of view, as any I had yet obtained. It stated, that in the
year 1772, when I knew that a hundred vessels sailed out of Liverpool for
the coast of Africa, the dock-duties amounted to 4552_l_., and that in
1779, when I knew that, in consequence of the war, only eleven went from
thence to the same coast, they amounted to 4957_l_. From these facts, put
together, two conclusions were obvious. The first was, that the opulence of
Liverpool, as far as the entry of vessels into its ports, and the
dock-duties arising from thence, were concerned, was not indebted to the
Slave-trade; for these duties were highest when it had only eleven ships in
that employ. The second was, that there had been almost a practical
experiment with respect to the abolition of it; for the vessels in it had
been gradually reduced from one hundred to eleven, and yet the West Indians
had not complained of their ruin, nor had the merchants or manufacturers
suffered, nor had Liverpool been affected by the change.


There were specimens of articles in Liverpool, which I entirely overlooked
at Bristol, and which I believe I should have overlooked here, also, had it
not been for seeing them at a window in a shop; I mean those of different
iron instruments used in this cruel traffic. I bought a pair of the iron
hand-cuffs with which the men-slaves are confined. The right-hand wrist of
one, and the left of another, are almost brought into contact by these, and
fastened together, as the figure A in the annexed plate represents, by a
little bolt with a small padlock at the end of it I bought also a pair of
shackles for the legs. These are represented by the figure B. The right
ancle of one man is fastened to the left of another, as the reader will
observe, by similar means. I bought these, not because it was difficult to
conceive how the unhappy victims of this execrable trade were confined, but
to show the fact that they were so. For what was the inference from it, but
that they did not leave their own country willingly; that, when they were
in the holds of the slave-vessels, they were not in the Elysium which had
been represented; and that there was a fear, either that they would make
their escape, or punish their oppressors? I bought also a thumb-screw at
this shop. The thumbs are put into this instrument through the two circular
holes at the top of it. By turning a key, a bar rises up by means of a
screw from C to D, and the pressure upon them becomes painful. By turning
it further you may make the blood start from the ends of them. By taking
the key away, as at E, you leave the tortured person in agony, without any
means of extricating himself, or of being extricated by others. This screw,
as I was then informed, was applied by way of punishment, in case of
obstinacy in the slaves, or for any other reputed offence, at the
discretion of the captain. At the same place I bought another instrument
which I saw. It was called a speculum oris. The dotted lines in the figure
on the right hand of the screw, represent it when shut, the black lines
when open. It is opened, as at G H, by a screw below with a knob at the end
of it. This instrument is known among surgeons, having been invented to
assist them in wrenching open the mouth as in the case of a locked jaw. But
it had got into use in this trade. On asking the seller of the instruments,
on what occasion it was used there, he replied, that the slaves were
frequently so sulky, as to shut their mouths against all sustenance, and
this with a determination to die; and that it was necessary their mouths
should be forced open to throw in nutriment, that they who had purchased
them might incur no loss by their death.

The town's talk of Liverpool was much of the same nature as that at Bristol
on the subject of this trade. Horrible facts concerning it were in every
body's mouth. But they were more numerous, as was likely to be the case,
where eighty vessels were employed from one port, and only eighteen from
the other. The people too at Liverpool seemed to be more hardened, or they
related them with more coldness or less feeling. This may be, accounted
for, from the greater number of those facts, as just related, the mention
of which, as it was of course more frequent, occasioned them to lose their
power of exciting surprise. All this I thought in my favour, as I should
more easily, or with less obnoxiousness, come to the knowledge of what I
wanted to obtain.

My friend William Rathbone, who had been looking out to supply me with
intelligence, but who was desirous that I should not be imposed upon, and
that I should get it from the fountain-head, introduced me to Mr. Norris
for this purpose. Norris had been formerly a slave-captain, but had quitted
the trade and settled as a merchant in a different line of business. He was
a man of quick penetration, and of good talents, which he had cultivated to
advantage, and he had a pleasing address both as to speech and manners. He
received me with great politeness, and offered me all the information I
desired. I was with him five or six times at his own house for this
purpose. The substance of his communications on these occasions I shall now
put down, and I beg the reader's particular attention to it, as he will be
referred to it in other parts of this work.

With respect to the produce of Africa, Mr. Norris enumerated many articles
in which a new and valuable trade might be opened, of which he gave me one,
namely, the black pepper from Whidah before mentioned. This he gave me, to
use his own expressions, as one argument among many others of the impolicy
of the Slave-trade, which, by turning the attention of the inhabitants to
the persons of one another for sale, hindered foreigners from discovering,
and themselves from cultivating, many of the valuable productions of their
own soil.

On the subject of procuring slaves he gave it as his decided opinion, that
many of the inhabitants of Africa were kidnapped by each other, as they
were travelling on the roads, or fishing in the creeks, or cultivating
their little spots. Having learnt their language, he had collected the fact
from various quarters, but more particularly from the accounts of slaves,
whom he had transported in his own vessels. With respect however to Whidah,
many came from thence, who were reduced to slavery in a different manner.
The king of Dahomey, whose life (with the wars and customs of the Dahomans)
he said he was then writing, and who was a very despotic prince, made no
scruple of seizing his own subjects, and of selling them, if he was in want
of any of the articles which the slave-vessels would afford him. The
history of this prince's life he lent me afterwards to read, while it was
yet in manuscript, in which I observed that he had recorded all the facts
now mentioned. Indeed he made no hesitation to state them, either when we
were by ourselves, or when others were in company with us. He repeated them
at one time in the presence both of Mr. Cruden and of Mr. Coupland. The
latter was then a slave-merchant at Liverpool. He seemed to be fired at the
relation of these circumstances. Unable to restrain himself longer, he
entered into a defence of the trade, both as to the humanity and the policy
of it. But Mr. Norris took up his arguments in both these cases, and
answered them in a solid manner.

With respect to the Slave-trade, as it affected the health of our seamen,
Mr. Norris admitted it to be destructive. But I did not stand in need of
this information, as I knew this pare of the subject, in consequence of my
familiarity with the muster-rolls, better than himself.

He admitted it also to be true, that they were too frequently ill-treated
in this trade. A day or two after our conversation on this latter subject
he brought me the manuscript journal of a voyage to Africa, which had been
kept by a mate, with whom he was then acquainted. He brought it to me to
read, as it might throw some light upon the subject on which we had talked
last. In this manuscript various instances of cruel usage towards seamen
were put down, from which it appeared that the mate, who wrote it, had not
escaped himself.

At the last interview we had he seemed to be so satisfied of the
inhumanity, injustice, and impolicy of the trade, that he made me a
voluntary offer of certain clauses, which he had been thinking of, and
which, he believed, if put into an act of parliament, would judiciously
effect its abolition. The offer of these clauses I embraced eagerly. He
dictated them, and I wrote. I wrote them in a small book which I had then
in pocket. They were these:

No vessel under a heavy penalty to supply foreigners with slaves.

Every vessel to pay to government a tax for a register on clearing out to
supply our own islands with slaves.

Every such vessel to be prohibited from purchasing or bringing home any of
the productions of Africa.

Every such vessel to be prohibited from bringing home a passenger, or any
article of produce, from the West Indies.

A bounty to be given to every vessel trading in the natural productions of
Africa. This bounty to be paid in part out of the tax arising from the
registers of the slave-vessels.

Certain establishments to be made by government in Africa, in the Bananas,
in the Isles de Los, on the banks of the Camaranca, and in other places,
for the encouragement and support of the new trade to be substituted there.

Such then were the services, which Mr. Morris, at the request of William
Rathbone, rendered me at Liverpool, during my stay there; and I have been
very particular in detailing them, because I shall be obliged to allude to
them, as I have before observed, on some important occasions in a future
part of the work.

On going my rounds one day, I met accidentally with captain Chaffers. This
gentleman either was or had been in the West India employ. His heart had
beaten in sympathy with mine, and he had greatly favoured our cause. He had
seen me at Mr. Norris's, and learned my errand there. He told me he could
introduce me in a few minutes, as we were then near at hand, to captain
Lace, if I chose it. Captain Lace, he said, had been long in the
Slave-trade, and could give me very accurate information about it. I
accepted his offer. On talking to captain Lace, relative to the productions
of Africa, he told me that mahogany grew at Calabar. He began to describe a
tree of that kind, which he had seen there. This tree was from about
eighteen inches to two feet in diameter, and about sixty feet high, or, as
he expressed it, of the height of a tall chimney. As soon as he mentioned
Calabar, a kind of horror came over me. His name became directly associated
in my mind with the place. It almost instantly occurred to me, that he
commanded the Edgar out of Liverpool, when the dreadful massacre there, as
has been related, took place. Indeed I seemed to be so confident of it,
that, attending more to my feelings than to my reason at this moment, I
accused him with being concerned in it. This produced great confusion among
us. For he looked incensed at captain Chaffers, as if he had introduced me
to him for this purpose. Captain Chaffers again seemed to be all
astonishment that I should have known of this circumstance, and to be vexed
that I should have mentioned it in such a manner. I was also in a state of
trembling myself. Captain Lace could only say it was a bad business. But he
never defended himself, nor those concerned in it. And we soon parted, to
the great joy of us all.

Soon after this interview I began to perceive that I was known in
Liverpool, as well as the object for which I came. Mr. Coupland, the
slave-merchant, with whom I had disputed at Mr. Norris's house, had given
the alarm to those who were concerned in the trade, and captain Lace, as
may be now easily imagined, had spread it. This knowledge of me and of my
errand was almost immediately productive of two effects, the first of which
I shall now mention.

I had a private room at the King's Arms tavern, besides my bed-room, where
I used to meditate and to write. But I generally dined in public. The
company at dinner had hitherto varied but little as to number, and
consisted of those, both from the town and country, who had been accustomed
to keep up a connection with the house. But now things were altered, and
many people came to dine there daily with a view of seeing me, as if I had
been some curious creature imported from foreign parts. They thought also,
they could thus have an opportunity of conversing with me. Slave-merchants
and slave-captains came in among others for this purpose. I had observed
this difference in the number of our company for two or three days. Dale,
the master of the tavern, had observed it also, and told me in a
good-natured manner, that, many of these were my visitors, and that I was
likely to bring him a great deal of custom. In a little time however things
became serious; for they, who came to see me, always started the abolition
of the Slave-trade as the subject for conversation. Many entered into the
justification of this trade with great warmth, as if to ruffle my temper,
or at any rate to provoke me to talk. Others threw out, with the same view,
that men were going about to abolish it, who would have done much better if
they had staid at home. Others said they had heard of a person turned mad,
who had conceived the thought of destroying Liverpool, and all its glory.
Some gave as a toast, Success to the Trade, and then laughed immoderately,
and watched me when I took my glass to see if I would drink it. I saw the
way in which things were now going, and I believed it would be proper that
I should come to some fixed resolutions; such as, whether I should change
my lodgings, and whether I should dine in private; and if not, what line of
conduct it would become me to pursue on such occasions. With respect to
changing my lodgings and dining in private, I conceived, if I were to do
either of these things, that I should be showing an unmanly fear of my
visitors, which they would turn to their own advantage. I conceived too,
that, if I chose to go on as before, and to enter into conversation with
them on the subject of the abolition of the Slave-trade, I might be able,
by having such an assemblage of persons daily, to gather all the arguments
which they could collect on the other side of our question, an advantage
which I should one day feel in the future management of the cause. With
respect to the line, which I should pursue in the case of remaining in the
place of my abode and in my former habits, I determined never to start the
subject of the abolition myself--never to abandon it when started--never to
defend it but in a serious and dignified manner--and never to discover any
signs of irritation, whatever provocation might be given me. By this
determination I abided rigidly. The King's Arms became now daily the place
for discussion on this subject. Many tried to insult me, but to no purpose.
In all these discussions I found the great advantage of having brought Mr.
Falconbridge with me from Bristol: for he was always at the table; and when
my opponents, with a disdainful look, tried to ridicule my knowledge, among
those present, by asking me if I had ever been on the coast of Africa
myself, he used generally to reply, "But I have. I know all your
proceedings there, and that his statements are true." These and other words
put in by him, who was an athletic and resolute-looking man, were of great
service to me. All disinterested persons, of whom there were four or five
daily in the room, were uniformly convinced by our arguments, and took our
part, and some of them very warmly. Day after day we beat our opponents out
of the field, as many of the company acknowledged, to their no small
mortification, in their presence. Thus, while we served the cause by
discovering all that could be said against it, we served it by giving
numerous individuals proper ideas concerning it, and of interesting them in
our favour.

The second effect which I experienced was, that from this time I could
never get any one to come forward as an evidence to serve the cause. There
were, I believe, hundreds of persons in Liverpool, and in the neighbourhood
of it, who had been concerned in this traffic, and who had left it, all of
whom could have given such testimony concerning it as would have insured
its abolition. But none of them would now speak out. Of these indeed there
were some, who were alive to the horrors of it, and who lamented that it
should still continue. But yet even these were backward in supporting me.
All that they did was just privately to see me, to tell me that I was
right, and to exhort me to persevere: but as to coming forward to be
examined publicly, my object was so unpopular, and would become so much
more so when brought into parliament, that they would have their houses
pulled down, if they should then appear as public instruments in the
annihilation of the trade. With this account I was obliged to rest
satisfied; nor could I deny, when I considered the spirit, which had
manifested itself, and the extraordinary number of interested persons in
the place, that they had some reason for their fears: and that these fears
were not groundless, appeared afterwards; for Dr. Binns, a respectable
physician belonging to the religious society of the Quakers, and to whom
Isaac Hadwen had introduced me, was near falling into a mischievous plot,
which had been laid against him, because he was one of the subscribers to
the Institution for the Abolition of the Slave-trade, and because he was
suspected of having aided me in prompting that object.


_Hostile disposition towards the author increases, on account of his known
patronage of the seamen employed in the Slave-trade--manner of procuring
and paying them at Liverpool--their treatment, and mortality--Account of
the murder of Peter Green--trouble taken by the author to trace it--his
narrow escape--goes to Lancaster--but returns to Liverpool--leaves the
latter place._

It has appeared that a number of persons used to come and see me, out of
curiosity, at the King's Arms tavern; and that these manifested a bad
disposition towards me, which was near breaking out into open insult. Now
the cause of all this was, as I have observed, the knowledge which people
had obtained, relative to my errand at this place. But this hostile
disposition was increased by another circumstance, which I am now to
mention. I had been so shocked at the treatment of the seamen belonging to
the slave-vessels at Bristol, that I determined, on my arrival at
Liverpool, to institute an inquiry concerning it there also. I had made
considerable progress in it, so that few seamen were landed from such
vessels, but I had some communication with them; and though no one else
would come near me, to give me any information about the trade, these were
always forward to speak to me, and to tell me their grievances, if it were
only with the hope of being able to get redress. The consequence of this
was, that they used to come to the King's Arms tavern to see me. Hence one,
two, and three were almost daily to be found about the door; and this
happened quite as frequently after the hostility just mentioned had shown
itself, as before. They, therefore, who came to visit me out of curiosity,
could not help seeing my sailor visitors; and on inquiring into their
errand, they became more than ever incensed against me.

The first result of this increased hostility towards me was an application
from some of them to the master of the tavern, that he would not harbour
me. This he communicated to me in a friendly manner, but he was by no means
desirous that I should leave him. On the other hand, he hoped I would stay
long enough to accomplish my object. I thought it right, however, to take
the matter into consideration; and, having canvassed it, I resolved to
remain with him, for the reasons mentioned in the former chapter. But, that
I might avoid doing any thing that would be injurious to his interest, as
well as in some measure avoid giving unnecessary offence to others, I took
lodgings in Williamson Square, where I retired to write, and occasionally
to sleep, and to which place all seamen, desirous of seeing me, were
referred. Hence I continued to get the same information as before, but in a
less obnoxious and injurious manner.

The history of the seamen employed in the slave-vessels belonging to the
port of Liverpool, I found to be similar to that of those from Bristol.

They, who went into this trade, were of two classes. The first consisted of
those who were ignorant of it, and to whom, generally, improper
representations of advantage had been made, for the purpose of enticing
them into it. The second consisted of those, who, by means of a regular
system, kept up by the mates and captains, had been purposely brought by
their landlords into distress, from which they could only be extricated by
going into this hateful employ. How many have I seen, with tears in their
eyes, put into boats, and conveyed to vessels, which were then lying at the
Black Rock, and which were only waiting to receive them to sail away!

The manner of paying them in the currency of the Islands was the same as at
Bristol. But this practice was not concealed at Liverpool, as it was at the
former place. The articles of agreement were printed, so that all, who
chose to buy, might read them. At the same time it must be observed, that
seamen were never paid in this manner in any other employ; and that the
African wages, though nominally higher for the sake of procuring hands,
were thus made to be actually lower than in other trades.

The loss by death was so similar, that it did not signify whether the
calculation on a given number was made either at this or the other port. I
had, however, a better opportunity at this, than I had at the other, of
knowing the loss as it related to those, whose constitutions had been
ruined, or who had been rendered incapable, by disease, of continuing their
occupation at sea. For the slave-vessels, which returned to Liverpool,
sailed immediately into the docks, so that I saw at once their sickly and
ulcerated crews. The number of vessels, too, was so much greater from this,
than from any other port, that their sick made a more conspicuous figure in
the infirmary. And they were seen also more frequently in the streets.

With respect to their treatment, nothing could be worse. It seemed to me to
be but one barbarous system from the beginning to the end. I do not say
barbarous, as if premeditated, but it became so in consequence of the
savage habits gradually formed by a familiarity with miserable sights, and
with a course of action inseparable from the trade. Men in their first
voyages usually disliked the traffic; and, if they were happy enough then
to abandon it, they usually escaped the disease of a hardened heart. But if
they went a second and a third time, their disposition became gradually
changed. It was impossible for them to be accustomed to carry away men and
women by force, to keep them in chains, to see their tears, to hear their
mournful lamentations, to behold the dead and the dying, to be obliged to
keep up a system of severity amidst all this affliction,--in short, it was
impossible for them to be witnesses, and this for successive voyages, to
the complicated mass of misery passing in a slave-ship, without losing
their finer feelings, or without contracting those habits of moroseness and
cruelty, which would brutalize their nature. Now, if we consider that
persons could not easily become captains (and to these the barbarities were
generally chargeable by actual perpetration, or by consent) till they had
been two or three voyages in this employ, we shall see the reason why it
would be almost a miracle, if they, who were thus employed in it, were not
rather to become monsters, than to continue to be men.

While I was at Bristol, I heard from an officer of the Alfred, who gave me
the intelligence privately, that the steward of a Liverpool ship, whose
name was Green, had been murdered in that ship. The Alfred was in Bonny
river at the same time, and his own captain (so infamous for his cruelty,
as has been before shown) was on board when it happened. The circumstances,
he said, belonging to this murder, were, if report were true, of a most
atrocious nature, and deserved to be made the subject of inquiry. As to the
murder itself, he observed, it had passed as a notorious and uncontradicted

This account was given me just as I had made an acquaintance with Mr.
Falconbridge, and I informed him of it. He said he had no doubt of its
truth. For in his last voyage he went to Bonny himself, where the ship was
then lying, in which the transaction happened. The king and several of the
black traders told him of it. The report then current was simply this, that
the steward had been barbarously beaten one evening; that after this he was
let down with chains upon him into a boat, which was alongside of the ship,
and that the next morning he was found dead.

On my arrival at Liverpool, I resolved to inquire into the truth of this
report. On looking into one of the wet docks, I saw the name of the vessel
alluded to. I walked over the decks of several others, and got on board
her. Two people were walking up and down her, and one was leaning upon a
rail by the side. I asked the latter how many slaves this ship had carried
in her last voyage. He replied, he could not tell; but one of the two
persons walking about could answer me, as he had sailed out and returned in
her. This man came up to us, and joined in conversation. He answered my
question and many others, and would have shown me the ship. But on asking
him how many seamen had died on the voyage, he changed his manner, and
said, with apparent hesitation, he could not tell. I asked him next, what
had become of the steward Green. He said, he believed he was dead. I asked
how the seamen had been used. He said, Not worse than others. I then asked
whether Green had been used worse than others. He replied, he did not then
recollect. I found that he was now quite upon his guard, and as I could get
no satisfactory answer from him I left the ship.

On the next day, I looked over the muster-roll of this vessel. On examining
it, I found that sixteen of the crew had died. I found also the name of
Peter Green. I found, again, that the latter had been put down among the
dead. I observed also, that the ship had left Liverpool on the fifth of
June 1786, and had returned on the fifth of June 1787, and that Peter Green
was put down as having died on the nineteenth of September; from all which
circumstances it was evident that he must, as my Bristol information
asserted, have died upon the Coast.

Notwithstanding this extraordinary coincidence of name, mortality, time,
and place, I could gain no further intelligence about the affair till
within about ten days before I left Liverpool; when among the seamen, who
came to apply to me in Williamson Square, was George Ormond. He came to
inform me of his own ill-usage; from which circumstance I found that he had
sailed in the same ship with Peter Green. This led me to inquire into the
transaction in question, and I received from him the following, account:--

Peter Green had been shipped as steward. A black woman, of the name of
Rodney, went out in the same vessel. She belonged to the owners of it, and
was to be an interpretess to the slaves who should be purchased. About five
in the evening, some time in the month of September, the vessel then lying
in Bonny river, the captain, as was his custom, went on shore. In his
absence, Rodney, the black woman, asked Green for the keys of the pantry;
which he refused her, alleging that the captain had already beaten him for
having given them to her on a former occasion, when she drunk the wine. The
woman, being passionate, struck him, and a scuffle ensued, out of which
Green extricated himself as well as he could.

When the scuffle was over the woman retired to the cabin, and appeared
pensive. Between eight and nine in the evening, the captain, who was
attended by the captain of the Alfred, came on board. Rodney immediately
ran to him, and informed him that Green had made an assault upon her. The
captain, without any inquiry, beat him severely, and ordered his hands to
be made fast to some bolts on the starboard side of the ship and under the
half deck, and then flogged him himself, using the lashes of the
cat-of-nine-tails upon his back at one time, and the double walled knot at
the end of it upon his head at another; and stopping to rest at intervals,
and using each hand alternately, that he might strike with the greater

The pain, had now become so very severe, that Green cried out, and
entreated the captain of the Alfred, who was standing by, to pity his hard
case, and to intercede for him. But the latter replied, that he would have
served him in the same manner. Unable to find a friend here, he called upon
the chief mate; but this only made matters worse, for the captain then
ordered the latter to flog him also; which he did for some time, using
however only the lashes of the instrument. Green then called in his
distress upon the second mate to speak for him; but the second mate was
immediately ordered to perform the same cruel office, and was made to
persevere in it till the lashes were all worn into threads. But the
barbarity did not close here: for the captain, on seeing the instrument now
become useless, ordered another, with which he flogged him as before,
beating him at times over the head with the double walled knot, and
changing his hands, and cursing his own left hand for not being able to
strike so severe a blow as his right.

The punishment, as inflicted by all parties, had now lasted two hours and a
half, when George Ormond was ordered to cut down one of the arms, and the
boatswain the other, from the places of their confinement. This being done,
Green lay motionless on the deck. He attempted to utter something. Ormond
understood it to be the word water. But no water was allowed him. The
captain, on the other hand, said he had not yet done with him, and ordered
him to be confined with his arms across, his right hand to his left foot,
and his left hand to his right foot. For this purpose the carpenter brought
shackles, and George Ormond was compelled to put them on. The captain then
ordered some tackle to be made fast to the limbs of the said Peter Green,
in which situation he was then hoisted up, and afterwards let down into a
boat, which was lying alongside the ship. Michael Cunningham was then sent
to loose the tackle, and to leave him there.

In the middle watch, or between one and two next morning, George Ormond
looked out of one of the port-holes, and called to Green, but received no
answer. Between two and three, Paul Berry, a seaman, was sent down into the
boat and found him dead. He made his report to one of the officers of the
ship. About five in the morning, the body was brought up, and laid on the
waist near the half-deck door. The captain on seeing the body, when he
rose, expressed no concern, but ordered it to be knocked out of irons, and
to be buried at the usual place of interment for seamen, or Bonny Point. I
may now observe, that the deceased was in good health before the punishment
took place, and in high spirits; for he played upon the flute only a short
time before Rodney asked him for the keys, while those seamen, who were in
health, danced.

On hearing this cruel relation from George Ormond, who was throughout a
material witness to the scene, I had no doubt in my own mind of the truth
of it. But I thought it right to tell him at once that I had seen a person,
about four weeks ago, who had been the same voyage with him and Peter
Green, but yet who had no recollection of these circumstances. Upon this he
looked quite astonished, and began to grow angry. He maintained he had seen
the whole. He had also held the candle himself during the whole punishment.
He asserted that one candle and half of another were burnt out while it
lasted. He said also that, while the body lay in the waist, he had handled
the abused parts, and had put three of his fingers into a hole, made by the
double walled knot, in the head, from whence a quantity of blood and, he
believed, brains issued. He then challenged me to bring the man before him.
I desired him upon this to be cool, and to come to me the next day, and I
would then talk with him again upon the subject.

In the interim I consulted the muster-roll of the vessel again. I found the
name of George Ormond. He had sailed in her out of Liverpool, and had been
discharged at the latter end of January in the West Indies, as he had told
me. I found also the names of Michael Cunningham and of Paul Berry, whom he
had mentioned. It was obvious also that Ormond's account of the captain of
the Alfred being on board at the time of the punishment, tallied with that
given me at Bristol by an officer of that vessel, and that his account of
letting down Peter Green into the boat tallied with that, which Mr.
Falconbridge, as I mentioned before, had heard from the king and the black
traders in Bonny river.

When he came to me next day, he came in high spirits. He said he had found
out the man whom I had seen. The man, however, when he talked to him about
the murder of Peter Green, acknowledged every thing concerning it. Ormond
intimated that this man was to sail again in the same ship under the
promise of being an officer, and that he had been kept on board, and had
been enticed to a second voyage, for no other purpose than that he might be
prevented from divulging the matter. I then asked Ormond, whether he
thought the man would acknowledge the murder in my hearing. He replied,
that, if I were present, he thought he would not say much about it, as he
was soon to be under the same captain, but that he would not deny it. If
however I were out of sight, though I might be in hearing, he believed he
would acknowledge the facts.

By the assistance of Mr. Falconbridge, I found a public-house, which had
two rooms in it. Nearly at the top of the partition between them was a
small window, which a person might look through by standing upon a chair. I
desired Ormond, one evening, to invite the man into the larger room, in
which he was to have a candle, and to talk with him on the subject. I
purposed to station myself in the smallest in the dark, so that by looking
through the window I could both see and hear him, and yet be unperceived
myself. The room, in which I was to be, was one, where the dead were
frequently carried to be owned. We were all in our places at the time
appointed. I directly discovered that it was the same man with whom I had
conversed on board the ship in the wet docks. I heard him distinctly relate
many of the particulars of the murder, and acknowledge them all. Ormond,
after having talked with him some time, said, "Well, then, you believe
Peter Green was actually murdered?" He replied, "If Peter Green was not
murdered, no man ever was." What followed I do not know. I had heard quite
enough; and the room was so disagreeable in smell, that I did not choose to
stay in it longer than was absolutely necessary.

I was now quite satisfied that the murder had taken place, and my first
thought was to bring the matter before the mayor, and to take up three of
the officers of the ship. But, in mentioning my intention to my friends, I
was dissuaded from it. They had no doubt but that in Liverpool, as there
was now a notion that the Slave-trade would become a subject of
parliamentary inquiry, every effort would be made to overthrow me. They
were of opinion also that such of the magistrates, as were interested in
the trade, when applied to for warrants of apprehension, would contrive to
give notice to the officers to escape. In addition to this they believed,
that so many in the town were already incensed against me, that I should be
torn to pieces, and the house where I lodged burnt down, if I were to make
the attempt. I thought it right therefore to do nothing for the present;
but I sent Ormond to London, to keep him out of the way of corruption, till
I should make up my mind as to further proceedings on the subject.

It is impossible, if I observe the bounds I have prescribed myself, and I
believe the reader will be glad of it on account of his own feelings, that
I should lay open the numerous cases, which came before me at Liverpool,
relative to the ill treatment of the seamen in this wicked trade. It may be
sufficient to say, that they harassed my constitution, and affected my
spirits daily. They were in my thoughts on my pillow after I retired to
rest, and I found them before my eyes when I awoke. Afflicting however as
they were, they were of great use in the promotion of our cause. For they
served, whatever else failed, as a stimulus to perpetual energy. They made
me think light of former labours, and they urged me imperiously to new. And
here I may observe, that among the many circumstances, which ought to
excite our joy on considering the great event of the abolition of the
Slave-trade, which has now happily taken place, there are few for which we
ought to be more grateful, than that from this time our commerce ceases to
breed such abandoned wretches; while those, who have thus been bred in it,
and who may yet find employment in other trades, will in the common course
of nature be taken off in a given time, so that our marine will at length
be purified from a race of monsters, which have helped to cripple its
strength, and to disgrace its character.

The temper of many of the interested people of Liverpool had now become
still more irritable, and their hostility more apparent than before. I
received anonymous letters, entreating me to leave it, or I should
otherwise never leave it alive. The only effect, which this advice had upon
me, was to make me more vigilant when I went out at night. I never stirred
out at this time without Mr. Falconbridge. And he never accompanied me
without being well armed. Of this, however, I knew nothing until we had
left the place. There was certainly a time, when I had reason to believe
that I had a narrow escape. I was one day on the pier-head with many others
looking at some little boats below at the time of a heavy gale. Several
persons, probably out of curiosity, were hastening thither. I had seen all
I intended to see, and was departing, when I noticed eight or nine persons
making towards me. I was then only about eight or nine yards from the
precipice of the pier, but going from it. I expected that they would have
divided to let me through them; instead of which they closed upon me and
bore me back. I was borne within a yard of the precipice, when I discovered
my danger; and perceiving among them the murderer of Peter Green, and two
others who had insulted me at the King's Arms, it instantly struck me that
they had a design to throw me over the pier-head; which they might have
done at this time, and yet have pleaded that I had been killed by accident.
There was not a moment to lose. Vigorous on account of the danger, I darted
forward. One of them, against whom I pushed myself, fell down. Their ranks
were broken. And I escaped, not without blows, amidst their imprecations
and abuse.

I determined now to go to Lancaster, to make some inquiries about the
Slave-trade there. I had a letter of introduction to William Jepson, one of
the religious society of the Quakers, for this purpose. I found from him,
that, though there were slave-merchants at Lancaster, they made their
outfits at Liverpool, as a more convenient port. I learnt too from others,
that the captain of the last vessel, which had sailed out of Lancaster to
the coast of Africa for slaves, had taken off so many of the natives
treacherously, that any other vessel known to come from it would be cut
off. There were only now one or two superannuated captains living in the
place. Finding I could get no oral testimony, I was introduced into the
Custom-house. Here I just looked over the muster-rolls of such
slave-vessels as had formerly sailed from this port; and having found that
the loss of seamen was precisely in the same proportion as elsewhere, I
gave myself no further trouble, but left the place.

On my return to Liverpool, I was informed by Mr. Falconbridge, that a
shipmate of Ormond, of the name of Patrick Murray, who had been discharged
in the West Indies, had arrived there. This man, he said, had been to call
upon me in my absence, to seek redress for his own bad usage; but in the
course of conversation he had confirmed all the particulars as stated by
Ormond, relative to the murder of Peter Green. On consulting the
muster-roll of the ship, I found his name, and that he had been discharged
in the West Indies on the second of February. I determined therefore to see
him. I cross-examined him in the best manner I could. I could neither make
him contradict himself, nor say any thing that militated against the
testimony of Ormond. I was convinced therefore of the truth of the
transaction; and, having obtained his consent, I sent him to London to stay
with the latter, till he should hear further from me. I learnt also from
Mr. Falconbridge, that my visitors had continued to come to the King's Arms
during my absence; that they had been very liberal of their abuse of me;
and that one of them did not hesitate to say (which is remarkable) that "I
deserved to be thrown over the pier-head."

Finding now that I could get no further evidence; that the information
which I had already obtained was considerable[A]; and that the commitee had
expressed an earnest desire, in a letter which I had received, that I would
take into consideration the propriety of writing my Essay on the Impolicy
of the Slave-trade as soon possible, I determined upon leaving Liverpool. I
went round accordingly and took leave of my friends. The last of these was
William Rathbone, and I have to regret, that it was also the last time I
ever saw him. Independently of the gratitude I owed him for assisting me in
this great cause, I respected him highly as a man. He possessed a fine
understanding with a solid judgment. He was a person of extraordinary
simplicity of manners. Though he lived in a state of pecuniary
independence, he gave an example of great temperance, as well as of great
humility of mind. But however humble he appeared, he had always the courage
to dare to do that which was right, however it might resist the customs or
the prejudices of men. In his own line of trade, which was that of a
timber-merchant on an extensive scale, he would not allow any article to be
sold for the use of a slave-ship, and he always refused those, who applied
to him for materials for such purposes. But it is evident that it was his
intention, if he had lived, to bear his testimony still more publicly upon
this subject; for an advertisement, stating the ground of his refusal to
furnish any thing for this traffic upon Christian principles, with a
memorandum for two advertisements in the Liverpool papers, was found among
his papers at his decease.

[Footnote A: In London, Bristol and Liverpool, I had already obtained the
names of more than 20,000 seamen, in different voyages, knowing what had
become of each.]


_Author proceeds to Manchester--finds a spirit rising among the people
there for the abolition of the Slave-trade--is requested to deliver a
discourse on the subject of the Slave-trade--heads of it--and
extracts--proceeds to Keddleston--and Birmingham--finds a similar spirit at
the latter place--revisits Bristol--new and difficult situation
there--Author crosses the Severn at night--unsuccessful termination of his
journey--returns to London._

I now took my departure from Liverpool, and proceeded to Manchester, where
I arrived on the Friday evening. On the Saturday morning Mr. Thomas Walker,
attended by Mr. Cooper and Mr. Bayley of Hope, called upon me. They were
then strangers to me. They came, they said, having heard of my arrival, to
congratulate me on the spirit which was then beginning to show itself,
among the people of Manchester and of other places, on the subject of the
Slave-trade, and which would unquestionably manifest itself further by
breaking out into petitions to parliament for its abolition. I was much
surprised at this information. I had devoted myself so entirety to my
object, that I had never had time to read a newspaper since I left London.
I never knew therefore, till now, that the attention of the public had been
drawn to the subject in such a manner. And as to petitions, though I myself
had suggested the idea at Bridgewater, Bristol, Gloucester, and two or
three other places, I had only done it provisionally, and this without
either the knowledge or the consent of the commitee. The news, however, as
it astonished, so it almost overpowered me with joy. I rejoiced in it
because it was a proof of the general good disposition of my countrymen;
because it showed me that the cause was such as needed only to be known, to
be patronised; and because the manifestation of this spirit seemed to me to
be an earnest, that success would ultimately follow.

The gentlemen now mentioned took me away with them, and introduced me to
Mr. Thomas Phillips. We conversed at first upon the discoveries made in my
journey; but in a little time, understanding that I had been educated as a
clergyman, they came upon me with one voice, as if it had been before
agreed upon, to deliver a discourse the next day, which was Sunday, on the
subject of the Slave-trade. I was always aware that it was my duty to do
all that I could with propriety to serve the cause I had undertaken, and
yet I found myself embarrassed at their request. Foreseeing, as I have
before related, that this cause might demand my attention to it for the
greatest part of my life, I had given up all thoughts of my profession. I
had hitherto but seldom exercised it, and then only to oblige some friend.
I doubted too, at the first view of the thing, whether the pulpit ought to
be made an engine for political purposes, though I could not but consider
the Slave-trade as a mass of crimes, and therefore the effort to get rid of
it as a Christian duty. I had an idea too, that sacred matters should not
be entered upon without due consideration, nor prosecuted in a hasty, but
in a decorous and solemn manner. I saw besides, that as it was then two
o'clock in the afternoon, and this sermon was to be forthcoming the next
day, there was not sufficient time to compose it properly. All these
difficulties I suggested to my new friends without any reserve. But nothing
that I could urge would satisfy them. They would not hear of a refusal, and
I was obliged to give my consent, though I was not reconciled to the

When I went into the church it was so full that I could scarcely get to my
place; for notice had been publicly given, though I knew nothing of it,
that such a discourse would be delivered. I was surprised also to find a
great crowd of black people standing round the pulpit. There might be forty
or fifty of them. The text that I took, as the best to be found in such a
hurry, was the following: "Thou shalt not oppress a stranger, for ye know
the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."

I took an opportunity of showing from these words, that Moses, in
endeavouring to promote among the Children of Israel a tender disposition
towards those unfortunate strangers who had come under their dominion,
reminded them of their own state when strangers in Egypt, as one of the
most forcible arguments which could be used on such an occasion. For they
could not have forgotten that the Egyptians "had made them serve with
rigour; that they had made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar,
and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field; and that all the
service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour." The argument
therefore of Moses was simply this; "Ye knew well, when ye were strangers
in Egypt, the nature of your own feelings. Were you not made miserable by
your debased situation there? But if so, you must be sensible that the
stranger, who has the same heart, or the same feelings with yourselves,
must experience similar suffering, if treated in a similar manner. I charge
you then, knowing this, to stand clear of the crime of his oppression."

The law, then, by which Moses commanded the Children of Israel to regulate
their conduct with respect to the usage of the stranger, I showed to be a
law of universal and eternal obligation, and for this, among other reasons,
that it was neither more nor less than the Christian law, which appeared
afterwards, that we should not do that to others, which we should be
unwilling to have done unto ourselves.

Having gone into these statements at some length, I made an application of
them in the following words:--

"This being the case, and this law of Moses being afterwards established
into a fundamental precept of Christianity, I must apply it to facts of the
present day, and I am sorry that I must apply it to--ourselves.

"And first, Are there no strangers, whom we oppress? I fear the wretched
African will say, that he drinks the cup of sorrow, and that he drinks it
at our hands. Torn from his native soil, and from his family and friends,
he is immediately forced into a situation, of all others the most
degrading, where he and his progeny are considered as cattle, as
possessions, and as the possessions of a man to whom he never gave offence.

"It is a melancholy fact, but it can be abundantly proved, that great
numbers of the unfortunate strangers, who are carried from Africa to our
colonies, are fraudulently and forcibly taken from their native soil. To
descant but upon a single instance of the kind must be productive of pain
to the ear of sensibility and freedom. Consider the sensations of the
person, who is thus carried off by the ruffians, who have been lurking to
intercept him. Separated from every thing which he esteems in life, without
the possibility even of bidding his friends adieu, behold him overwhelmed
in tears--wringing his hands in despair--looking backwards upon the spot
where all his hopes and wishes lay,--while his family at home are waiting
for him with anxiety and suspense--are waiting, perhaps, for
sustenance--are agitated between hope and fear--till length of absence
confirms the latter, and they are immediately plunged into inconceivable
misery and distress.

"If this instance, then, is sufficiently melancholy of itself, and is at
all an act of oppression, how complicated will our guilt appear, who are
the means of snatching away thousands annually in the same manner, and who
force them and their families into the same unhappy situation, without
either remorse or shame!"

Having proceeded to show, in a more particular manner than I can detail
here, how, by means of the Slave-trade, we oppressed the stranger, I made
an inquiry into the other branch of the subject, or how far we had a
knowledge of his heart.

To elucidate this point, I mentioned several specific instances, out of
those which I had collected in my journey, and which I could depend upon as
authentic, of honour--gratitude--fidelity--filial, fraternal, and conjugal
affection--and of the finest sensibility, on the part of those, who had
been brought into our colonies from Africa, in the character of slaves, and
then I proceeded for a while in the following words:--

"If, then, we oppress the stranger, as I have shown, and if, by a knowledge
of his heart, we find that he is a person of the same passions and feelings
as ourselves, we are certainly breaking, by means of the prosecution of the
Slave-trade, that fundamental principle of Christianity, which says, that
we shall not do that unto another, which we wish should not be done unto
ourselves, and, I fear, cutting ourselves off from all expectation of the
Divine blessing. For how inconsistent is our conduct! We come into the
temple of God; we fall prostrate before him; we pray to him, that he will
have mercy upon us. But how shall he have mercy upon us, who have had no
mercy upon others! We pray to him, again, that he will deliver us from
evil. But how shall he deliver us from evil, who are daily invading the
right of the injured African, and heaping misery on his head!"

I attempted, lastly, to show, that, though the sin of the Slave-trade had
been hitherto a sin of ignorance, and might therefore have so far been
winked at, yet as the crimes and miseries belonging to it became known, it
would attach even to those who had no concern in it, if they suffered it to
continue either without notice or reproach, or if they did not exert
themselves in a reasonable manner for its suppression. I noticed
particularly, the case of Tyre and Sidon, which were the Bristol and the
Liverpool of those times. A direct judgment had been pronounced by the
prophet Joel against these cities, and, what is remarkable, for the
prosecution of this same barbarous traffic. Thus, "And what have ye to do
with me O Tyre and Sidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? Ye have cast
lots for my people. Ye have sold a girl for wine. The children of Judah,
and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might
remove them far from their own border. Behold! I will raise them out of the
place whither ye have sold them, and will recompense your wickedness on
your own heads." Such was the language of the prophet; and Tyre and Sidon
fell, as he had pointed out, when the inhabitants were either cut off, or
carried into slavery.

Having thrown out these ideas to the notice of the audience, I concluded in
the following words:--

"If, then, we wish to avert the heavy national judgment which is hanging
over our heads (for must we not believe that our crimes towards the
innocent Africans lie recorded against us in heaven) let us endeavour to
assert their cause. Let us nobly withstand the torrent of the evil, however
inveterately it may be fixed among the customs of the times; not, however,
using our liberty as a cloak of maliciousness against those, who perhaps
without due consideration, have the misfortune to be concerned in it, but
upon proper motives, and in a proper spirit, as the servants of God; so
that if the sun should be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood,
and the very heaven should fall upon us, we may fall in the general
convulsion without dismay, conscious that we have done our duty in
endeavouring to succour the distressed, and that the stain of the blood of
Africa is not upon us."

From Manchester I proceeded to Keddleston in Derbyshire, to spend a day
with Lord Scarsdale, and to show him my little collection of African
productions, and to inform him of my progress since I last saw him. Here a
letter was forwarded to me from the reverend John Toogood, of Keinton Magna
in Dorsetshire, though I was then unknown to him. He informed me that he
had addressed several letters to the inhabitants of his own county, through
their provincial paper, on the subject of the Slave-trade, which letters
had produced a considerable effect. It appeared, however, that, when he
began them, he did not know of the formation of our commitee, or that he
had a single coadjutor in the cause.

From Keddleston I turned off to Birmingham, being desirous of visiting
Bristol in my way to London, to see if any thing new had occurred since I
was there. I was introduced by letter, at Birmingham, to Sampson and
Charles Lloyd, the brothers of John Lloyd, belonging to our commitee, and
members of the religious society of the Quakers. I was highly gratified in
finding that these, in conjunction with Mr. Russell, had been attempting to
awaken the attention of the inhabitants to this great subject, and that in
consequence of their laudable efforts, a spirit was beginning to show
itself there, as at Manchester, in favour of the abolition of the
Slave-trade. The kind manner in which these received me, and the deep
interest which they appeared to take in our cause, led me to an esteem for
them, which, by means of subsequent visits, grew into a solid friendship.

At length I arrived at Bristol at about ten o'clock on Friday morning. But
what was my surprise, when almost the first thing I heard from my friend
Harry Gandy was, that a letter had been dispatched to me to Liverpool,
nearly a week ago, requesting me immediately to repair to this place; for
that in consequence of notice from the Lords of the Admiralty, advertised
in the public papers, the trial of the chief mate, whom I had occasioned to
be taken up at Bristol, for the murder of William Lines, was coming on at
the Old Bailey, and that not an evidence was to be found. This intelligence
almost paralysed me. I cannot describe my feelings on receiving it. I
reproached myself with my own obstinacy for having resisted the advice of
Mr. Burges, as has been before explained. All his words now came fresh into
my mind. I was terrified, too, with the apprehension that my own reputation
was now at stake. I foresaw all the calumnies which would be spread, if the
evidences were not forthcoming on this occasion. I anticipated, also, the
injury which the cause itself might sustain, if, at our outset, as it were,
I should not be able to substantiate what I had publicly advanced; and yet
the mayor of Bristol had heard and determined the case,--he had not only
examined, but re-examined, the evidences,--he had not only committed, but
re-committed, the accused: this was the only consolation I had. I was
sensible, however, amidst all these workings of my mind, that not a moment
was to be lost, and I began, therefore, to set on foot an inquiry as to the
absent persons.

On waiting upon the mother of William Lines, I learnt from her, that two
out of four of the witnesses had been bribed by the slave-merchants, and
sent to sea, that they might not be forthcoming at the time of the trial;
that the two others had been tempted also, but that they had been enabled
to resist the temptation; that, desirous of giving their testimony in this
cause, they had gone into some coal-mine between Neath and Swansea, where
they might support themselves till they should be called for; and that she
had addressed a letter to them, at the request of Mr. Gandy, above a week
ago, in which she had desired them to come to Bristol immediately, but that
she had received no answer from them. She then concluded, either that her
letter had miscarried, or that they had left the place.

I determined to lose no time, after the receipt of this intelligence; and I
prevailed upon a young man, whom my friend Harry Gandy had recommended to
me, to set off directly, and to go in search of them. He was to travel all
night, and to bring them, or, if weary himself with his journey, to send
them up, without ever sleeping on the road. It was now between twelve and
one in the afternoon. I saw him depart. In the interim I went to
Thompson's, and other places, to inquire if any other of the seamen,
belonging to the Thomas, were to be found; but, though I hunted diligently
till four o'clock, I could learn nothing satisfactory. I then went to
dinner, but I grew uneasy. I was fearful that my messenger might be at a
loss, or that he might want assistance on some occasion or other. I now
judged that it would have been more prudent if two persons had been sent,
who might have conferred with each other, and who might have divided, when
they had reached Neath, and gone to different mines, to inquire for the
witnesses. These thoughts disturbed me. Those, also, which had occurred
when I first heard of the vexatious way in which things were situated,
renewed themselves painfully to my mind. My own obstinacy in resisting the
advice of Mr. Burges, and the fear of injury to my own reputation, and to
that of the cause I had undertaken, were again before my eyes. I became
still more uneasy; and I had no way of relieving my feelings, but by
resolving to follow the young man, and to give him all the aid in my power.

It was now near six o'clock. The night was cold and rainy, and almost dark.
I got down, however, safe to the passage-house, and desired to be conveyed
across the Severn. The people in the house tried to dissuade me from my
design. They said no one would accompany me, for it was quite a tempest. I
replied, that I would pay those handsomely who would go with me. A person
present asked me if I would give him three guineas for a boat, I replied I
would. He could not for shame retract. He went out, and in about half an
hour brought a person with him. We were obliged to have a lanthorn as far
as the boat. We got on board, and went off. But such a passage I had never
before witnessed. The wind was furious. The waves ran high. I could see
nothing but white foam. The boat, also, was tossed up and down in such a
manner that it was with great difficulty I could keep my seat. The rain,
too, poured down in such torrents, that we were all of us presently wet
through. We had been, I apprehend, more than an hour in this situation,
when the boatmen began to complain of cold and weariness. I saw, also, that
they began to be uneasy, for they did not know where they were. They had no
way of forming any judgment about their course, but by knowing the point
from whence the wind blew, and by keeping the boat in a relative position
towards it. I encouraged them as well as I could, though I was beginning to
be uneasy myself, and also sick. In about a quarter of an hour they began
to complain again. They said they could pull no longer. They acknowledged,
however, that they were getting nearer to the shore, though on what part of
it, they could not tell. I could do nothing but bid them hope. They then
began to reproach themselves for having come out with me. I told them I had
not forced them, but that it was a matter of their own choice. In the midst
of this conversation I informed them that I thought I saw either a star or
a light straight forward. They both looked at it, and pronounced it to be a
light, and added with great joy that it must be a light in the
Passage-house: and so we found it; for in about ten minutes afterwards we
landed, and, on reaching the house, learnt that a servant maid had been
accidentally talking to some other person on the stair-case, near a window,
with a candle in her hand, and that the light had appeared to us from that

It was now near eleven o'clock. My messenger, it appeared, had arrived safe
at about five in the evening, and had proceeded on his route. I was very
cold on my arrival, and sick also. There seemed to be a chilliness all over
me, both within and without. Indeed I had not a dry thread about me. I took
some hot brandy and water, and went to bed; but desired, as soon as my
clothes were thoroughly dried, to be called up, that I might go forward.
This happened at about two in the morning, when I got up. I took my
breakfast by the fire side. I then desired the post-boy, if he should meet
any persons on the road, to stop, and inform me, as I did not know whether
the witnesses might not be coming up by themselves, and whether they might
not have passed my messenger without knowing his errand. Having taken these
precautions, I departed. I travelled on, but we met no one. I traced,
however, my messenger through Newport, Cardiff, and Cowbridge. I was
assured, also, that he had not passed me on his return; nor had any of
those passed me, whom he was seeking. At length, when I was within about
two miles of Neath, I met him. He had both the witnesses under his care.
This was a matter of great joy to me. I determined to return with them. It
was now nearly two in the afternoon. I accordingly went back, but we did
not reach the Passage-house again till nearly two the next morning.

During our journey, neither the wind nor the rain had much abated. It was
quite dark on our arrival. We found only one person, and he had been
sitting up in expectation of us. It was in vain that I asked him for a boat
to put us across the water. He said all the boatmen were in bed; and, if
they were up, he was sure that none of them would venture out. It was
thought a mercy by all of them, that we were not lost last night.
Difficulties were also started about horses to take us another way. Unable
therefore to proceed, we took refreshment and went to bed.

We arrived at Bristol between nine and ten the next morning; but I was so
ill, that I could go no further; I had been cold and shivering ever since
my first passage across the Severn, and I had now a violent sore throat,
and a fever with it. All I could do was to see the witnesses off for
London, and to assign them to the care of an attorney, who should conduct
them to the trial. For this purpose I gave them a letter to a friend of the
name of Langdale. I saw them depart. The mother of William Lines
accompanied them. By a letter received on Tuesday, I learnt that they had
not arrived in town till Monday morning at three o'clock; that at about
nine or ten they found out the office of Mr. Langdale; that, on inquiring
for him, they heard he was in the country, but that he would be home at
noon; that, finding he had not then arrived, they acquainted his clerk with
the nature of their business, and opened my letter to show him the contents
of it; that the clerk went with them to consult some other person on the
subject, when he conveyed them to the Old Bailey; but that, on inquiring at
the proper place about the introduction of the witnesses, he learnt that
the chief mate had been brought to the bar in the morning, and, no person
then appearing against him, that he had been discharged by proclamation.
Such was the end of all my anxiety and labour in this affair. I was very
ill when I received the letter; but I saw the necessity of bearing up
against the disappointment, and I endeavoured to discharge the subject from
my mind with the following wish, that the narrow escape which the chief
mate had experienced, and which was entirely owing to the accidental
circumstances now explained, might have the effect, under Providence, of
producing in him a deep contrition for his offence, and of awakening him to
a serious attention to his future life[A].

[Footnote A: He had undoubtedly a narrow escape, for Mr. Langdale's clerk
had learnt that he had no evidence to produce in his favour. The
slave-merchants, it seems, had counted most upon bribing those, who were to
come against him, to disappear.]

I was obliged to remain in Bristol a few days longer in consequence of my
illness; but as soon as I was able I reached London, when I attended a
sitting of the commitee after an absence of more than five months. At this
commitee it was strongly recommended to me to publish a second edition of
my Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, and to insert
such of the facts in it, in their proper places, out of those collected in
my late travels, as I might judge to be productive of an interesting
effect. There appeared also an earnest desire in the commitee, that,
directly after this, I should begin my Essay on the Impolicy of the

In compliance with their wishes, I determined upon both these works. But I
resolved to retire into the country, that, by being subject to less
interruption there, I might the sooner finish them. It was proper, however,
that I should settle many things in London, before I took my departure from
it; and, among these, that I should find out George Ormond and Patric
Murray, whom I had sent from Liverpool on account of the information they
had given me relative to the murder of Peter Green. I saw no better way
than to take them before Sir Sampson Wright, who was then at the head of
the police of the metropolis. He examined, and cross-examined them several
times, and apart from each other. He then desired their evidence to be
drawn up in the form of depositions, copies of which he gave to me. He had
no doubt that the murder would be proved. The circumstances of the deceased
being in good health at nine o'clock in the evening, and of his severe
sufferings till eleven, and of the nature of the wounds discovered to have
been made on his person, and of his death by one in the morning, could
never, he said, be done away, by any evidence, who should state that he had
been subject to other disorders, which might have occasioned his decease.
He found himself therefore compelled to apply to the magistrates of
Liverpool, for the apprehension of three of the principal officers of the
ship. But the answer was, that the ship had sailed, and that they, whose
names had been specified, were then, none of them, to be found in

It was now for me to consider, whether I would keep the two witnesses,
Ormond and Murray, for a year, or perhaps longer, at my own expense, and
run the hazard of the death of the officers in the interim, and of other
calculable events. I had felt so deeply for the usage of the seamen in this
cruel traffic, which indeed had embittered all my journey, that I had no
less than nine prosecutions at law upon my hands on their account, and
nineteen witnesses detained at my own cost. The commitee in London could
give me no assistance in these cases. They were the managers of the public
purse for the abolition of the Slave-trade, and any expenses of this kind
were neither within the limits of their object, nor within the pale of
their duty. From the individuals belonging to it, I picked up a few guineas
by way of private subscription, and this was all. But a vast load still
remained upon me, and such as had occasioned uneasiness to my mind. I
thought it therefore imprudent to detain the evidences for this purpose for
so long a time, and I sent them back to Liverpool. I commenced, however, a
prosecution against the captain at common law for his barbarous usage of
them, and desired that it might be pushed on as vigorously as possible; and
the result was, that his attorney was so alarmed, particularly after
knowing what had been done by Sir Sampson Wright, that he entered into a
compromise to pay all the expenses of the suit hitherto incurred, and to
give Ormond and Murray a sum of money as damages for the injury which they
themselves had sustained. This compromise was acceded to. The men received
the money, and signed the release, (of which I insisted upon a copy,) and
went to sea again in another trade, thanking me for my interference in
their behalf. But by this copy, which I have now in my possession, it
appears that care was taken by the captain's attorney to render their
future evidence in the case of Peter Green, almost impracticable; for it
was there wickedly stated, "that George Ormond and Patric Murray did then
and there bind themselves in certain penalties, that they would neither
encourage nor support any action at law against the said captain, by or at
the suit or prosecution of any other of the seamen now or late on board the
said ship, and that they released the said captain also from all manner of
actions, suits, and cause and causes of action, informations, prosecutions,
and other proceedings, which they then had, or ever had, or could or might
have by reason of the said assaults upon their own persons, or _other
wrongs or injuries done by the said captain heretofore and to the date of
this release_[A]."

[Footnote A: None of the nine actions before mentioned ever came to a
trial, but they were all compromised by paying sums to the injured


_Labours of the commitee during the author's journey--Quakers the first to
notice its institution--General Baptists the next--Correspondence opened
with American societies for Abolition--First individual who addressed the
commitee was Mr. William Smith--Thanks voted to Ramsay--commitee prepares
lists of persons to whom to send its publications--Barclay, Taylor, and
Wedgwood elected members of the commitee--Letters from Brissot, and
others--Granville Sharp elected chairman--Seal ordered to be engraved
--Letters from different correspondents as they offered their services to
the commitee._

The commitee, during my absence, had attended regularly at their posts.
They had been both vigilant and industrious. They were, in short, the
persons, who had been the means of raising the public spirit, which I had
observed first at Manchester, and afterwards as I journeyed on. It will be
proper, therefore, that I should now say something of their labours, and of
the fruits of them. And if, in doing this, I should be more minute for a
few pages than some would wish, I must apologize for myself by saying that
there are others, who would be sorry to lose the knowledge of the
particular manner in which the foundation was laid, and the superstructure
advanced, of a work, which will make so brilliant an appearance in our
history as that of the abolition of the Slave-trade.

The commitee having dispersed five hundred circular letters, giving an
account of their institution, in London and its neighbourhood, the Quakers
were the first to notice it. This they did in their yearly epistle, of
which the following is an extract:--"We have also thankfully to believe
there is a growing attention in many, not of our religious Society, to the
subject of Negro-slavery; and that the minds of the people are more and
more enlarged to consider it as an aggregate of every species of evil, and
to see the utter inconsistency of upholding it by the authority of any
nation whatever, especially of such as punish, with loss of life, crimes
whose magnitude bears scarce any proportion to this complicated iniquity."

The General Baptists were the next; for on the twenty-second of June,
Stephen Lowdell and Dan Taylor attended as a deputation from the annual
meeting of that religious body, to inform the commitee, that those, whom
they represented, approved their proceedings, and that they would
countenance the object of their institution.

The first individual, who addressed the commitee, was Mr. William Smith,
the present member for Norwich. In his letter he expressed the pleasure he
had received in finding persons associated in the support of a cause, in
which he himself had taken a deep interest. He gave them advice as to their
future plans. He promised them all the cooperation in his power: and he
exhorted them not to despair, even if their first attempt should be
unsuccessful; "for consolation," says he, "will not be wanting. You may
rest satisfied that the attempt will be productive of some good; that the
fervent wishes of the righteous will be on your side, and that the blessing
of those who are ready to perish will fall upon you." And as Mr. Smith was
the first person to address the commitee as an individual after its
formation, so, next to Mr. Wilberforce and the members of it, he gave the
most time and attention to the promotion of the cause.

On the fifth of July, the commitee opened a correspondence, by means of
William Dillwyn, with the societies of Philadelphia and New York, of whose
institution an account has been given. At this sitting a due sense was
signified of the services of Mr. Ramsay, and a desire of his friendly
communications when convenient.

The two next meetings were principally occupied in making out lists of the
names of persons in the country, to whom the commitee should send their
publications for distribution. For this purpose every member was to bring
in an account of those whom he knew personally, and whom he believed not
only to be willing, but qualified on account of their judgment and the
weight of their character, to take an useful part in the work, which was to
be assigned to them. It is a remarkable circumstance, that, when the lists
were arranged, the commitee, few as they were, found they had friends in no
less then thirty-nine counties[A], in each of which there were several, so
that a knowledge of their institution could now be soon diffusively spread.

[Footnote A: The Quakers by means of their discipline have a greater
personal knowledge of each other, than the members of any other religious
society. But two-thirds of the commitee were Quakers, and hence the
circumstance is explained. Hence also nine-tenths of our first coadjutors
were Quakers.]

The commitee, having now fixed upon their correspondents, ordered five
hundred of the circular letters, which have been before mentioned, and five
thousand of the Summary Views, an account of which has been given also, to
be printed.

On account of the increase of business, which was expected in consequence
of the circulation of the preceding publications, Robert Barclay, John
Vickris Taylor, and Josiah Wedgwood esquire, were added to the commitee;
and it was then resolved, that any three members might call a meeting when

On the twenty-seventh of August, the new correspondents began to make their
appearance. This sitting was distinguished by the receipt of letters from
two celebrated persons. The first was from Brissot, dated Paris, August the
eighteenth, who, it may be recollected, was an active member of the
National Convention of France, and who suffered in the persecution of
Robespiere. The second was from Mr. John Wesley, whose useful labours as a
minister of the gospel are so well known to our countrymen.

Brissot, in this letter, congratulated the members of the commitee, on
having come together for so laudable an object. He offered his own
assistance towards the promotion of it. He desired also that his valuable
friend Claviere (who suffered also under Robespiere) might be joined to
him, and that both might be acknowledged by the commitee as associates in
what he called this heavenly work. He purposed to translate and circulate
through France, such publications as they might send him from time to time,
and to appoint bankers in Paris, who might receive subscriptions and remit
them to London for the good of their common cause. In the mean time, if his
own countrymen should be found to take an interest in this great cause, it
was not improbable that a commitee might be formed in Paris, to endeavour
to secure the attainment of the same object from the government in France.

The thanks of the commitee were voted to Brissot for this disinterested
offer of his services, and he was elected an honorary and corresponding
member. In reply, however, to his letter it was stated, that, as the
commitee had no doubt of procuring from the generosity of their own nation
sufficient funds for effecting the object of their institution, they
declined the acceptance of any pecuniary aid from the people of France, but
recommended him to attempt the formation of a commitee in his own country,
and to inform them of his progress, and to make to them such other
communications as he might deem necessary upon the subject from time to

Mr. Wesley, whose letter was read next, informed the commitee of the great
satisfaction which he also had experienced, when he heard of their
formation. He conceived that their design, while it would destroy the
Slave-trade, would also strike at the root of the shocking abomination of
slavery also. He desired to forewarn them that they must expect
difficulties and great opposition from those who were interested in the
system; that these were a powerful body; and that they would raise all
their forces, when they perceived their craft to be in danger. They would
employ hireling writers, who would have neither justice nor mercy. But the
commitee were not to be dismayed by such treatment, nor even if some of
those, who professed good-will towards them, should turn against them. As
for himself, he would do all he could to promote the object of their
institution. He would reprint a new and large edition of his Thought on
Slavery, and circulate, it among his friends in England and Ireland, to
whom he would add a few words in favour of their design. And then he
concluded in these words: "I commend you to Him, who is able to carry you
through all opposition, and support you under all discouragements."

On the fourth, eleventh, and eighteenth of September, the commitee were
employed variously. Among other things they voted their thanks to Mr.
Leigh, a clergyman of the established church, for the offer of his services
for the county of Norfolk. They ordered also one thousand of the circular
letters to be additionally printed.

At one of these meetings a resolution was made, that Granville Sharp,
esquire, be appointed chairman. This appointment, though now first formally
made in the minute book, was always understood to have taken place; but the
modesty of Mr. Sharp was such, that, though repeatedly pressed, he would
never consent to take the chair, and he generally refrained from coming
into the room till after he knew it to be taken. Nor could he be prevailed
upon, even after this resolution, to alter his conduct: for though he
continued to sign the papers, which were handed to him by virtue of holding
this office, he never was once seated as the chairman during the twenty
years in which he attended at these meetings. I thought it not improper to
mention this trait in his character. Conscious that he engaged in the cause
of his fellow-creatures solely upon the sense of his duty as a Christian,
he seems to have supposed either that he had done nothing extraordinary to
merit such a distinction, or to have been fearful lest the acceptance of it
should bring a stain upon the motive, on which alone he undertook it.


On the second and sixteenth of October two sittings took place; at the
latter of which a sub-commitee, which had been appointed for the purpose,
brought in a design for a seal. An African was seen, (as in the figure[A],)
in chains in a supplicating posture, kneeling with one knee upon the
ground, and with both his hands lifted up to Heaven, and round the seal was
observed the following motto, as if he was uttering the words himself--"Am
I not a Man and a Brother?" The design having been approved of, a seal was
ordered to be engraved from it. I may mention here, that this seal, simple
as the design was, was made to contribute largely, as will be shown in its
proper place, towards turning the attention of our countrymen to the case
of the injured Africans, and of procuring a warm interest in their favour.

[Footnote A: The figure is rather larger than that in the seal.]

On the thirtieth of October several letters were read; one of these was
from Brissot and Claviere conjointly. In this they acknowledged the
satisfaction they had received on being considered as associates in the
humane work of the abolition of the Slave-trade, and correspondents in
France for the promotion of it. They declared it to be their intention to
attempt the establishment of a commitee there on the same principles as
that in England: but, in consequence of the different constitutions of the
two governments, they gave the commitee reason to suppose that their
proceedings must be different, as well as slower than those in England, for
the same object.

A second letter was read from Mr. John Wesley. He said that he had now read
the publications, which the commitee had sent him, and that he took, if
possible, a still deeper interest in their cause. He exhorted them to more
than ordinary diligence and perseverance; to be prepared for opposition; to
be cautious about the manner of procuring information and evidence, that no
stain might fall upon their character; and to take care that the question
should be argued as well upon the consideration of interest as of humanity
and justice, the former of which he feared would have more weight than the
latter; and he recommended them and their glorious concern, as before, to
the protection of Him who was able to support them.

Letters were read from Dr. Price, approving the institution of the
commitee; from Charles Lloyd of Birmingham, stating the interest which the
inhabitants of that town were taking in it; and from William Russell,
esquire, of the same place, stating the same circumstance, and that he
would cooperate with the former in calling a public meeting, and in doing
whatever else was necessary for the promotion of so good a cause. A letter
was read also from Manchester, signed conjointly by George Barton, Thomas
Cooper, John Ferriar, Thomas Walker, Thomas Phillips, Thomas Butterworth
Bayley, and George Lloyd, esquires, promising their assistance for that
place. Two others were read from John Kerrich, esquire, of Harleston, and
from Joshua Grigby, esquire, of Drinkston, each tendering their services,
one for the county of Norfolk, and the other for the county of Suffolk. The
latter concluded by saying, "With respect to myself, in no possible
instance of my public conduct can I receive so much sincere satisfaction,
as I shall by the vote I will most assuredly give in parliament, in support
of this most worthy effort to suppress a traffic, which is contrary to all
the feelings of humanity, and the laws of our religion."

A letter was read also at this sitting from major Cartwright, of Marnham,
in which he offered his own services, in conjunction with those of the
reverend John Charlesworth, of Ossington, for the county of Nottingham.

"I congratulate you," says he in this letter, "on the happy prospect of
some considerable step at least being taken towards the abolition of a
traffic, which is not only impious in itself, but of all others tends most
to vitiate the human mind.

"Although procrastination is generally pernicious in cases depending upon
the feelings of the heart, I should almost fear that, without very uncommon
exertions, you will scarcely be prepared early in the next sessions for
bringing the business into parliament with the greatest advantage. But be
that as it may, let the best use be made of the intermediate time; and
then, if there be a superintending Providence, which governs every thing in
the moral world, there is every reason to hope for a blessing on this
particular work."

The last letter was from Robert Boucher Nickolls, dean of Middleham in
Yorkshire. In this he stated that he was a native of the West Indies, and
had travelled on the continent of America. He then offered some important
information to the commitee, as his mite towards the abolition of the
Slave-trade, and as an encouragement to them to persevere. He attempted to
prove that the natural increase of the Negros already in the West Indian
Islands would be fully adequate to the cultivation of them without any
fresh supplies from Africa, and that such natural increase would be secured
by humane treatment. With this view he instanced the two estates of Mr. Mac
Mahon and of Dr. Mapp in the island of Barbadoes. The first required
continual supplies of new slaves, in consequence of the severe and cruel
usage adopted upon it. The latter overflowed with labourers in consequence
of a system of kindness, so that it almost peopled another estate. Having
related these instances, he cited others in North America, where, though
the climate was less favourable to the constitution of the Africans, but
their treatment better, they increased also. He combated, from his own
personal knowledge, the argument that, self-interest was always sufficient
to ensure good usage, and maintained that there was only one way of
securing it, which was the entire abolition of the Slave-trade. He showed
in what manner the latter measure would operate to the desired end. He then
dilated on the injustice and inconsistency of this trade, and supported the
policy of the abolition of it, both to the planter, the merchant, and the

This letter of the Dean of Middleham, which was a little Essay, of itself,
was deemed of so much importance by the commitee, but particularly as it
was the result of local knowledge, that they not only passed a resolution
of thanks to him for it, but desired his permission to print it.

The commitee sat again on the thirteenth and twenty-second of November. At
the first of these sittings, a letter was read from Henry Grimston,
esquire, of Whitwell Hall, near York, offering his services for the
promotion of the cause in his own county. At the second, the Dean of
Middleham's answer was received. He acquiesced in the request of the
commitee; when five thousand of his letters were ordered immediately to be

On the twenty-second a letter was read from Mr. James Mackenzie, of the
town of Cambridge, desiring to forward the object of the institution there.
Two letters were read also, one from the late Mr. Jones, tutor of Trinity
College, and the other from Mr. William Frend, fellow of Jesus College. It
appeared from these that the gentlemen of the University of Cambridge were
beginning to take a lively interest in the abolition of the Slave-trade,
among whom Dr. Watson, the bishop of Llandaff, was particularly
conspicuous. At this commitee two thousand new Summary Views were ordered
to be printed, and the circular letter to be prefixed to each.


_Labours of the commitee continued to February 1788--commitee elect new
members--vote thanks to Falconbridge and others--receive letters from Grove
and others--circulate numerous publications--make a report--send circular
letters to corporate bodies--release Negros unjustly detained--find new
correspondents in Archdeacon Paley--the Marquis de la Fayette--Bishop of
Cloyne--Bishop of Peterborough--and in many others._

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