By Thomas Clarkson
Because the topic of the next paintings has thankfully turn into of overdue a topick of dialog i will not commence the preface in a way extra passable to the sentiments of the benevolent reader than via giving an account of these humane and precious people who've endeavoured to attract upon it that proportion of the publick recognition which it has received.
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Additional info for An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species Particularly the African: Translated from a Latin Dissertation Which Was Honoured With the First Prize in the University of Cambridge, for the Year 1785, With Additions
Why do you kill them with fatigue? Why does the whip deform their bodies, or the knife their limbs? Why do you sentence them to death? to a death, infinitely more excruciating than that from which you so kindly saved them? What answer do you make to this? for if you had not humanely preserved them from the hands of their conquerors, a quick death perhaps, and that in the space of a moment, had freed them from their pain: but on account of your favour and benevolence, it is known, that they have lingered years in pain and agony, and have been sentenced, at last, to a dreadful death for the most insignificant offence.
Here then the voice of nature and justice is against him. ” But if kings then, to whom their own people have granted dominion and power, are unable to invade the liberties of their harmless subjects, without the highest injustice; how can those private persons be justified, who treacherously lie in wait for their fellowcreatures, and sell them into slavery? What arguments can they possibly bring in their defence? What treaty of empire can they produce, by which their innocent victims ever resigned to them the least portion of their liberty?
Have the unfortunate convicts been guilty of injury to you? Have they broken your treaties? Have they plundered your ships? Have they carried your wives and children into slavery, that you should thus retaliate? Have they offended you even by word or gesture? But if the African convicts are innocent with respect to you; if you have not even the shadow of a claim upon their persons; by what right do you receive them? ”—But can laws alter the nature of vice? They may give it a sanction perhaps: it will still be immutably the same, and, though dressed in the outward habiliments of honour, will still be intrinsically base.