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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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“I now perform a promise, which I some time since made to your Royal Highness, and take the liberty of submitting to you the result of my further thoughts on the means that yet remain to be adopted for terminating the African slave trade. The ideas principally intended to be illustrated are, the necessity of the immediate interference of this country to induce foreign states to assent to its abolition, and the propriety and justice in case of refusal, of capturing all such vessels, of whatever country, as may be found engaged in the trade. Your Royal Highness will, perhaps, recollect that this idea was first started in a conversation which I had the honour to have with you at High Legh, and it seemed to me at that time to be a consequence of some observations which your Royal Highness had made on the subject. I afterwards reconsidered an assertion, which, I
feared, had been too hastily made, but which further deliberation confirmed; and I have now the satisfaction to know, that on the principal point of the abstract right of this country to prevent other nations from carrying on the trade, your Royal Highness entirely coincides.

“The question of the expediency of such an interference, under present circumstances, as it involves the deepest considerations of national interest, is of more difficult solution, and on this account I postponed, in my last communication to your Royal Highness, entering upon its consideration, under an apprehension that a hasty and imperfect defence of it might rather injure than promote a cause on which so much depends. Since that time, I have deliberately reconsidered my former statement, and compared it with the opinions of the principal writers on general law, and the pages I now transmit to your Royal Highness are the result of this consideration. I cannot but be sensible, that the proposing any measures which may possibly tend to increase the causes of hostility between nations, unless such measures be indispensably necessary, is highly culpable, and I should consider myself as acting in contradiction to every principle and feeling of my life, if I were to place myself in such a predicament. But, greatly as I deprecate it, and thoroughly convinced as I am that war is often resorted to
upon insufficient and even criminal grounds, I cannot admit that the dearest and most indisputable privileges of the human race are to be abandoned to the caprice, the tyranny, or the avarice of those, who, in the plenitude of their power, may think proper to trample upon them. War, when engaged in for the defence of liberty, the vindication of justice, or the succour of the oppressed, is not only allowable, but when it can be waged with a reasonable prospect of success, is indispensable; and if it were not for this eternal and unshaken resistance of right to wrong, this rising up of justice, to crush and put down oppression, the interests of the human race would be surrendered, and their destinies decided upon by the most cruel, the most odious, and the most profligate of their kind.”