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The Life of William Roscoe
Chapter XI. 1809-1810
William Roscoe to the Duke of Gloucester, [1811]

Vol I. Contents
Chapter I. 1753-1781
Chapter II. 1781-1787
Chapter III. 1787-1792
Chapter IV. 1788-1796
Chapter V. 1795
Chapter VI. 1796-1799
Chapter VII. 1799-1805
Chapter IX. 1806-1807
Chapter X. 1808
Chapter XI. 1809-1810
Vol II. Contents
Chapter XII. 1811-1812
Chapter XIII. 1812-1815
Chapter XIV. 1816
Chapter XV. 1817-1818
Chapter XVI. 1819
Chapter XVII. 1820-1823
Chapter XVIII. 1824
Chapter XIX. 1825-1827
Chapter XX. 1827-1831
Chapter XXI.
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“Your Royal Highness will, I trust, excuse
the liberty I have taken in enclosing, for your perusal, a brief reply to some remarks made by
Mr. George Harrison, one of the Directors of the African Institution, in a letter which I had the honour to address to your Royal Highness in 1809, and of which the Institution published an extract in their report for that year.

“I confess, that as far as these remarks relate to myself, they appear, from his own statement, to be so unfounded, that I should willingly have left the decision to the candid judgment of his readers, but on further consideration, it appeared to me, that the sentiments avowed by Mr. Harrison were not only inconsistent with those enlightened views upon which the Institution has hitherto acted, but likely to prove injurious to the best interests of those for whose benefit it was established. In fact, a considerable degree of prejudice seems to prevail against all those who have engaged in a direct and legitimate trade with Africa, although their motives and conduct are as different from those of their predecessors as light from darkness, and the existence of such an intercourse is indispensably necessary to the civilisation of those countries.

“An idea has, I find, been entertained, that I had myself engaged in this trade; but, in fact, I never had in my life any share or concern in any ship or adventure. My second son is, indeed, a partner in a mercantile house in Liver-
pool, which has sent out three ships direct from Liverpool to the coast, two of which returned last year, and the third is daily expected; but with this voyage, I understand, their undertaking will close; as the duties upon African produce are such that it cannot be imported with advantage.

“Anxious as I am that every measure should be adopted that may eradicate the traffic for slaves, I cannot perceive that the regulations now proposed to parliament for that purpose will be more effectual than those which preceded them. The former act has been evaded, not because of the inadequacy of the penalties, but because of the difficulty of conviction, in an intercourse which can be carried on between the coast of Africa and foreign ports, though with the property and for the use of British subjects.

“To increase these penalties will, therefore, only induce the slave-dealers to redouble their precautions; and if they have not been convicted when punishable only by fine, they will certainly not be convicted when punishable by transportation or death. I have already too far intruded on your Royal Highness’s indulgence on this subject, but I cannot relinquish my decided conviction, that it is only by one great and virtuous effort that the slave trade can be effectually abolished, and until it can be demonstrated that power is improperly exercised when employed
in restraining inhumanity and oppression, I am compelled to retain my opinion.

“Should the enclosed paper accord with the sentiments entertained by your Royal Highness on the subject in discussion, it will give me the greatest satisfaction.”