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has no connexion. I am sensible that there are great difficulties attending the adjustment of such a union, and that it requires great wisdom and temper to form it, especially on the part of Ireland, which must feel that she ought to give the preponderance to Great Britain; but I am sure the business ought not to be neglected, and that every true friend to both kingdoms ought to give it his most zealous assistance.
“ I beg pardon for having gone into a subject not immediately belonging to that on which you have desired my opinion ; but I thought it so connected with it, and at the same time so important, that I trust you will excuse my having introduced it. I fear I have been very long; but it was impossible for me to compress so much matter into a less compass; and when you wished to have my opinion, I thought it best to give it fully, or at least as fully as I could in a letter. If it contains one thought that can be useful, I shall be happy. I have only to assure the Committee of the zeal I feel for the cause the Volunteers have undertaken, to the support of which I shall ever be ready to give every assistance in my power; and that it is with the highest respect and admiration for their conduct, that I have the honor to be “ Their most obedient, and most hunible Servant,
“ RICHMOND, &c."
WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, ESQ. M.P.
Sir, I have been anxiously waiting for the present period, when the foes of our country are subdued, to address you on the subject of Slavery. The great and unwearied efforts you have made to suppress the traffic of human flesh, will transmit your name with honor, as a man and Christian, to the most remote posterity. You have at last received the noblest reward in the success which has crowned your labors ;' and the treaty just concluded with France, consecrates your exertions, whilst it shows what a single individual, impelled by an honest zeal, is capable of performing. This perseverance and this success in behalf of the negro, encourages me to claim your powerful aid, in order to redress another grievance equally glaring, and where the sufferers have a much stronger title than the African to your sympathy. The sufferers are Britons ; and what is more, to their courage and intrepidity the country is principally indebted for the prosperity and security she now enjoys.
I belong myself to this class of inen, whose hardships have been so long and so unaccountably veglected ; and whilst you, Sir, and other philanthropists ranged the earth, in order to break the fetters of the slave, you disregarded with singular inconsistency, the ill treatment which the British seaman, the guardian of your independence, has been obliged to endure. In his cause no bolts of eloquence were shot, no commiseration was excited ; and whilst he encountered death in every form, and raised the fame of Britain to the highest elevation that can be reached, his ill treatment, though more galling than that of the negro, because he was born and bred
· Had the same zeal been manifested by Mr. Wilberforce in the cause of British seamen, and upon the subject of Ireland, this country would be able to brave future dangers as it has surmounted past perils. Apropos for Ireland: whoever will legislate for that important division of the empire must combine the qualities of our Alfred and of Peter of Russia, he must unite great and extensive views to justice and energy.
up with the rights and feelings of a free man, remain unnoticed and unredressed. Such indifference to this most meritorious class of men would detract much from the sincerity of that sensibility, which was so ostentatiously manifested for the unenlightened African, uoless the same persons who have distinguished themselves in redressing the wrongs of the latter, should come forward to relieve the much harsher treatment to which the British seaman has been subjected.
It has been said by you and many others in this country, that the selfish motives of the proprietors of slaves in the West Indies have drawn a film over their eyes, which prevents them from seeing the evils of slavery; allow me to ask you if nine-tenths of the people of this country are not in a similar state, as you term it, of mental and moral blindness towards British seamen, who deprived of the benefit of the laws of the land ; hunted down as wild beasts,' and treated as I was myself, that you and others may enjoy the freedom and ease you now possess ? The principle is the same; but you enjoy advantages in a twofold degree over the West Indian who only has pecuniary interests; while the people in this country derive not only wealth but national consequence from the hardihood, enterprise, and activity, of men of my profession,
To do away with negro slavery, you brought forward to the public a variety of cruel circumstances selected throughout the West Indies ; allow me to ask you, Sir, if an inquiry, not requiring a fiftieth part of the former labor, had been instituted to obtain information on topics of cruelty and brutal behaviour towards British seamen on the shores of the Thames, whether you would not have brought atrocities to light as revolting as those which you say are committed on the coast of Guinea, or in the West Indies ? That they should have so long escaped your notice, and that of other friends of humanity, whose feelings so powerfully revolt at the very name of oppression, exceeds I confess my powers of comprehension. It certainly requires explanation why our philanthropists can see distinctly what is passing to the south of Europe, and cannot discern what is passing in their own country. Far be from me the design of detracting from the generous efforts you have made in the favorite and almost absorbing object of your public labors ; I merely wish to stimulate the same energies, and awaken similar sensibility in a cause, that appeals with still greater force to the mind of the man and the ci'izen. The subject I have taken up, and in aid of wþich I claim the support of your talents
I mean the mode of pricking for men with cutlasses in the hold of vessels, which I have heard called, as described by an officer-pinking: this I saw practised until murder had nearly taken place.
and reputation, needs no impassioned delineation—no exaggerated coloring. It only requires to be faithfully represented, and brought forward before parliament and the public by a man, whose character is free from the suspicion of factious motives, and whose parliamentary conduct is regulated by his conscience and a sense of the general good : in that case I pledge myself that the evil, which is the subject of this appeal, will be soon redressed. Every motive allied with human suffering, every sentiment associated with a sense of signal services, every inducement coupled with policy ; and, in a word, the preservation of our present high fame, prosperity, and rights as a nation, imperiously call for the inquiry and redress I here solicit on behalf of that much neglected and harshly treated class of men of my profession. It will no doubt hereafter exercise the ingenuity of the moralist and of the political inquirer, why the most enlightened country upon earth, famed for its laws and its respect for the rights of the meanest subject, calling at the very time upon
the nations of the earth to assist it in the cause of humanity and in the extinction of slavery, should have tolerated the violence and injustice, which constitute the subject of the present letter. The solution of this problem will be more difficult hereafter, when the period that those acts of oppression were permitted, and the class of men who were the victims of it shall be considered : the period the most glorious in our annals-the men the first founders and the bravest supporters of this vast and towering edifice of national glory. Yes, it was at such a period that the gallant and constitutional defenders of our national independence were exposed, without protection and without mercy, to be dragged away by fellows, (the outcasts of human nature,) from their wives, their children and friends, on board a receiving ship, and confined, under locks and bolts, as felons ; excluded from intercourse with their friends, subjected against their will to the rigor of martial law, and liable to be sent to a foreign station for an undefined period. Sir, it is not my wish to raise yours or the public interest, by presenting this subject in a glaring point of view. My silence, during the contiyuance of hostilities with a cruel and perfidious enemy, is a pledge of the purity of my motives ; and it were perhaps to be wished that you had, in the agitation of a memorable question, acted with the same degree of discretion, and with an equal degree of unwillingness to embarrass the march of the executive government.
To give you some idea of the impress, I shall mention a circumstance which occurred to myself. While walking in a street in the east end of London in the year 1808, in the month of July, about nine o'clock in the evening, with my wife holding by one of my arms, and her sister by the other, I was stopped by a man who