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To Dr. Percival, Manchester.
Liverpool, January 16. 1788. MY DEAR SIR, I am very much obliged by your letter of the 13th, and the different articles you were so kind as to send with it.
Mr. Christie sent me the prospectus of the Analytical Review, which is written with elegance and spirit. The plan is a good one; and, if adequately executed, cannot fail to be highly acceptable. But, I confess, I entertain my doubts, whether, as you justly remark, the bookseller's interest may not predominate in the business. In the mean time I look with some anxiety towards the publication, which will enable us to judge what spirit prevails.
I thank you for the Number you have sent me of the new work, to which I wish success. I cannot, however, help thinking, that the philosophical part of the publication (if a judgment may be formed from the First Number) will want
depth for those who are scientific, and amusement for those who are not.
Your proceedings at Manchester on the subject of negro slavery are, on the whole, judicious and spirited. The papers which I have seen (through your favour or Mr. Cooper's) are not of a temporising nature; they speak a language that admits of no compromise
a language which, on any other subject, could scarcely be approved of. In general, however, they have my hearty approbation, both as to sentiment and style.
The situation of a person of sense and feeling in society here, is at present very distressing. Men of any enlargement of mind, who have been concerned in the slave-trade, begin to reflect on their situation; and the struggle between interest and principle, between a lucrative traffic and a sense of character, is productive of such embarrassment and contradiction, as fills one with sorrow. Others, again, talk a high language; – but I cannot go on - I am ready a thousand times to cry out, with Cowper,
O for a lodge in some dark wilderness,
In the mean time, no steps whatever have yet been taken to counteract the application to par
liament, and I should hope none will. If no stir is made on one side, there will none be made on the other; but if the merchants step forward by petition in favour of the slave-trade, a counter petition will certainly be agitated, and a violent struggle must ensue.
How much can be said for this traffic, you may disco er, by perusing the letter signed' “ Vindex," which was written by a person' who was first a surgeon, and afterwards a master of a Guinea ship; after this, a governor on the coast; a planter on the Mississippi'; and, finally, from the misfortunes he sustained in the revolution of America, reduced to the station of a slave
сарtain again. He is a gentle, moderate man, and of a good' understanding His MS. was reviewed by several merchants in the trade here, and, I have reason to believe, was altered. With all these advantages, it appears to me to be more fatal to the cause it'proposes to support, than‘almost any thing that has appeared.
A pamphlet has just appeared, entitled “A General View of the African Slave Trade, with Hints towards a Bill for its Abolition,” which puts the subject in a very clear point of view, and contains a brief, but masterly, chain of propositions that bear irresistible force. I recom
mend it to your perusal. The moderation of its language is likely to make it useful.
I am happy to find the Universities have engaged in the cause of the Africans. Something will, I hope, be done in Scotland. A letter from you to Dr. Robertson might be of service. Literary men and literary societies ought particularly to interest themselves in this question, which addresses itself equally to the reason, the feelings, and the imagination; and will, I hope, establish the first link of a long chain of triumphs, which the influence of letters and of truth will obtain over prejudice, ignorance, and barbarity.
My situation, as you may imagine, is delicate. Every thing I would say, I cannot write. I have longed to converse with you; and if you can foresee any circumstance that
you to Warrington for an evening, long enough to give me notice in time, I should have much satisfaction in meeting you there. I remain, my dear Sir, with great regard, Your obliged and affectionate friend,
Liverpool, April 26. 1788. MY DEAR SIR, I beg you to accept my best thanks for the very kind attention you have paid me in various ways, of which I retain a grateful sense. The first volume of the new and improved edition of your Essays I have received as a valuable testimony of your regard.
The letters which you did me the favour to communicate from Dr. Robertson and Dr. Beattie, are very pleasing proofs of the general interest that has arisen among men of letters on the subject of negro slavery, and the public discussion it is likely to undergo. · The scheme mentioned by Dr. Beattie, of all the Universities of Scotland petitioning together, is a very fine one, and would have done them great honour but it is not consonant to the general spirit of Dr. Robertson's political conduct. I see with very great satisfaction that you have been instrumental in drawing attention to the subject in France. Nothing can be more desirable, than