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An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism by Beecher

Clarkson continued his labours


"Copies

of the Essay on the Impolicy of the Slave-Trade, translated into French, with engravings of the plan and section of a slave ship, were distributed with apparent good effect. The virtuous Abbe Gregoire, and several members of the National Assembly, called upon Mr. Clarkson. The Archbishop of Aix was so struck with horror, when the plan of the slave ship was shown to him, that he could scarcely speak; and Mirabeau ordered a model of it in wood to be placed in his dining-room.

"The circulation of intelligence, although contributing to make many friends, called forth the extraordinary exertions of enemies. Merchants, and others interested in the continuance of the slave-trade, wrote letters to the Archbishop of Aix, beseeching him not to ruin France; which they said he would inevitably do, if, as the president, he were to grant a day for hearing the question of the abolition. Offers of money were made to Mirabeau, if he would totally abandon his intended motion. Books were circulated in opposition to Mr. Clarkson's; resort was had to the public papers, and he was denounced as a spy. The clamour raised by these efforts pervaded all Paris, and reached the ears of the king. M. Necker had a long conversation with his royal master upon it, who requested to see the Essay, and the specimens of African manufactures, and bestowed considerable time upon them, being surprised at the state of the arts there. M. Necker did not exhibit the section of the slave

ship, thinking that as the king was indisposed, he might be too much affected by it. Louis returned the specimens, commissioning M. Necker to convey his thanks to Mr. Clarkson, and express his gratification at what he had seen.

"No decided benefit appears at this time to have followed the visit: but though much depressed by his ill success in France, Mr. Clarkson continued his labours, till excess of exertion, joined to repeated and bitter disappointments, impaired his health, and, after a hard struggle, subdued a constitution, naturally strong and vigorous beyond the lot of men in general, but shattered by anxiety and fatigue, and the sad probability, often forced upon his understanding, that all might at last have been in vain. Under these feelings, he retired in 1794 to the beautiful banks of Ulleswater; there to seek that rest which, without peril to his life, could no longer be delayed.

"For seven years he had maintained a correspondence with four hundred persons; he annually wrote a book upon the subject of the abolition, and travelled more than thirty-five thousand miles in search of evidence, making a great part of these journeys in the night. 'All this time,' Mr. Clarkson writes, 'my mind had been on the stretch; it had been bent too to this one subject; for I had not even leisure to attend to my own concerns. The various instances of barbarity, which had come successively to my knowledge within this period, had vexed, harassed, and afflicted it. The wound which these had produced was rendered still deeper by the reiterated refusal of persons to give their testimony, after I had travelled hundreds of miles in quest of them. But the severest stroke was that inflicted by the persecution begun and pursued by persons interested in the continuance of the trade, of such witnesses as had been examined against them; and whom, on account of their dependent situation in life, it was most easy to oppress. As I had been the means of bringing them forward on these occasions, they naturally came to me, as the author of their miseries and their ruin.[3] These different circumstances, by acting together, had at length brought me into the situation just mentioned; and I was, therefore, obliged, though very reluctantly, to be borne out of the field where I had placed the great honour and glory of my life.'"


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