Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

11 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



MEMORIAL TO THOMAS CLARKSON. A memorial has fort been erected to Thomas Clarkson, one of the earliest advocates of negro emancipation, and a coadjutor of Wllberforce In the great work of the abolition of slavery In the West Indian dependencies of Great Britain. Mr. Clarkson was born at Wlsbeach In the year 1760, and, after a life devoted to the cause of emancipation, died at Playford Hall, Sussex, In 1846.-The Times of Friday (10th Inst.) gives the following interesting account of the cere. mony of unveiling the memorial, which took place on Thursday In last week :— Between two and three miles from Ware an obelisk has been erected by Mr. Arthur Giles Puller, of Youngsbury, to mark the spot on which Clarkson first resolved to devote himself to the abolition of the slave trade. The ceremony of unveiling was performed last week by Miss Merivale, daughter of the Dean of Ely; and Dean Merivale, who forty-five years ago stood on the spot with Clarkson himself and heard all the circumstances from his lips, told the story in a very simple and unaffected manner. About half-past twelve o'clock a small company assembled around the memorial, among whom were Mr. Arthur Giles Puller, to whose liberality and public spirit the obelisk is due, the Baron and Baroness Dimsdale, the Rev, Canon Giffard. Rev. EL H. Coddington, Rev. G. Hill, Rev. H. Wetherall, Rev. R. Higgens, Professor Bonamy Price, and Dr. Gwyn Jeffreys. Mr. Puller said that the monument waiting to be unveiled had been erected to perpetuate the memory of an hour, he had almost said a moment, of crisis in the life of one who nearly 100 years ago, while still in the bloom of youth, rode as a simple wayfarer along the King's highway from the University of Cambridge to the metropolis. The history of Thomas Clarkson, or such of it as it concerned those present to know, would be narrated with riper eloquence than his by one who stood by Clarkson's side on that very 'spot some 45 years ago. The purpose and object of Thomas Clarkson's life, as well as of the resolution which he formed upon that spot, was, in sickness or health, in prosperity or adversity, through evil report or good report, to devote every faculty and every power which he possessed to bring about the abolition of the slave trade. Mr. Puller then introduced Dean Merivale as the historian of the Roman Empire. Dean Merivale said,—Ladies and Gentlemen,—Your friend and neighbour has introduced me to you under the very complimentary title of historian." I accept the title so far only as to give you a very simple narrative, without any attempt at eloquence, much less poetry. It was in the year 1785, ninety-four years ago, that Clarkson, then quite a young man, had taken his degree at Cambridge, and had competed in an essay for a prize. The subject of the essay was put forward by the Vice-Chancellor in a very tentative manner, showing how little impression and interest had then been created on this great question. The thesis was, "Is it lawful to enslave people against their will ?" It was, as it were, an open question. Clarkson, either pleased with the subject, though he had not at- tended to it before, or anxious to distinguish himself, wrote his essay and gained the prize. He recited the essay at what is called in the University the Com- mencement," which is the end of one academical year and the beginning of the next, and is always held at the end of June or the beginning of July. I tried to ascertain the exact day, but could not ascertain it, for, though there are records, that record has been lost. Himself mentioned the month of June, and therefore we accept the month, though we do not know the actual day. The day is interesting because, after de- livering his recitation, he took horse to ride to London. He tells us afterwards, in the history he wrote at the conclusion of the great campaign on the slave trade, how as he went along on his solitary ride he was thinking over and over again of what he had been saying that day or the day before, and, brooding over it, he felt very much depressed at the shocking things he had to relate. And he tells us that when he came within sight of Wadesmill he felt so much distressed and affected that he would not go into the village in the condition he was in. So he got off his horse, held it by the bridle, and thought again and again on the subject of his essay. At last he said to himself, "If this be so, it must be put down and he rose with his heart lightened, and went on to the Feathers Inn. He then proceeded to London, read Bach books on the subject as he could find, in the course of a few months associated himself with such men as Granville Sharpe and Bennet Langton, and in a short time determined to devote himself entirely to the abolition of the slave trade. He was a man of small means, but he determined to give up every idea of a profession, and to devote himself wholly to that great cause. For years he did so, and in 1867, 22 years afterwards, the abolition of the slave trade was carried by Act of Parliament, and the work he had contemplated was effected. (Hear, hear). And a very great work it was to forbid slaves being carried from Africa into Jamaica and the colonies. Slavery was not abolished at that time. There were two great stages-one the abolition of the slave trade, and the second the emancipation of the slave. That did not follow until 26 years afterwards. It was in 1833 that the class of men selected by Clarkson succeeded in effecting the complete abolition of slavery in the colonies. This event was felt very strongly, and particularly by the persons associated in the work, which began here with Clarkson sitting down on that spot and resolving to make the aboli. tion of the slave trade the object of his life. And now, ladies and gentlemen, if you are in the habit of reading history critically you will ask, "What is the evidence on which we know that Clarkson sat I down here?" Well, just aiter the Bill was carried, or at the moment the Bid was on the point of being carried, Basil Montague, a man well known in the literary world, and interested in Clarkson's work, came one morning to my father's house and said, "We are going to take a step to perpetuate the memory of Clarkson's great deed, and to commemorate the commencement of the abolition. Clarkson is going with me down to Wadesmill, where, as you might have read in his book, he first conceived the idea. We have reason to believe that the friends of the cauie will one day erect a monment on the spot in order that there should be a local habitation as well as a name to this event in history. And we want to take with us some younger man, who may, perchance, survive us and live to point out the spot, and interest some generous spirits in giving effect to the desire." I had the honour of being introduced to Clarkson, occupied a place in his carriage, and came down with him to the Feathers." We got out at tha Feathers," put up our horses there, and set out for this place. In connexion with that visit I often think of the words of Words tvorth :— Clarkson, it was an obstinate hill to climb." It was, and Clarkson wa, then an old man and had been greatly affected by the circumstances. He had evidently been feeling the situation very much, but he walked up the hill, looked about, and said, "I should like to ascertain the exact epot." He seemed a little dazed, and I think the hill must have been lowered since that time. (Hear, hear.) He turned round and said, Oh I remember. I just turned the corner of the road, and noticed the smoke from the 'Feathers' Inn. I wouldn't go down, because I felt so much affected, and I got off my horse and sat down on that spot." Then Mr, Basil Montague, who was an impulsive man, seized mv arm, and, dragging me across to the place, said, "You will never forget that place." (Hear, hear, and a laugh.) Therefore, I always felt there was a certain obligation resting on me to commemorate that spot. I brought the subject more than once before persons in. terested in the great history, but have been unsuccess- ful until about one year ago our excellent friend, Mr. Puller, hearing the story, not from me, but another said, "I am very interested in what you tell me, and I should like to take it up myself." (Hear, hear.) He invited me to his house, and we came here together, and fixed, I believe, on the exact spot. (Hear, hear.) I hope you will always bear in mind, while thinking of Clarkson and his great deed, the very excellent deed Mr. Puller has done in erecting this obelisk. (Cheers.) Miss Merivale then came forward, and, unveiling the obelisk, said,—I now unveil this monument erected to Clarkson, the liberator of the African slaves, and I hope it may stand for many years as a memorial of his virtuous perseverance. (Cheers.) On the motion of Mr. Coddington, a vote of thanks to Miss Merivale was passed, and the ceremony termi- nated. The obelisk consists of a piece of Portland stone on a base of rubbed Yorkshire stone, and rises to no great height. It stands by the roadside, on a hill overlook- ing the little village of Wadesmill, among the pleasant places of the county of Hertford. It bears the follow- ing inscription On the spot where stands this monument, in the month of June, 1785, Thomas Clarkson resolved to devote hit life to bringing about theabolilion of the slave trade." On the base are the words Placed here by Arthur Giles Puller, of Youngsbury, October 9, 1879."

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