Download PDF by Ellen Gibson Wilson (auth.): Thomas Clarkson: A Biography

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He had 'good reason' (which he never shared) to know that Wilberforce would not have taken up the cause at that time without hirn. '63 3 At the Perilous Fountainhead The morning after Langton's dinner party Clarkson appeared at James Phillips's printshop to ask hirn to summon the Quaker abolitionists to hear the news that Wilberforce had taken up the cause. The members were easily reached; it would be their fourth meeting that May of 1787. 1 In the brief interval of waiting, Clarkson sounded out by letter and in person Dr Peckard, Lord Scarsdale, Dr Baker and others about joining a society to work for the abolition of the slave trade.

Clarkson now judged that 2000 guineas would scarcely be enough to see an abolition bill through Parliament. William Dillwyn responded that from the time they first heard of his Essay they had hoped to make use of Clarkson. 41 By now Clarkson was a familiar figure in Quaker circles, which was not a common thing for an Anglican clergyman to be. The sect then was set apart by dress and many roles and customs peculiar to its members. Clarkson saw only that they reasoned as he did, that liberty was a natural right and that since Christ had died for mankind, all men were fundamentally equal.

Where the cause was concerned, he had been bold. Only his profound sense of mission can explain this lapse. Too much was at stake. He had no obvious second choice and all his hopes for a united abolition The Originator 23 campaign depended upon getting the issue before Parliament. Dejected, Clarkson 'actually went away without informing hirn of my errand'. 55 One does wonder why Wilberforce did not put Clarkson out of his misery by telling hirn plainly that he intended to become the spokesman, for he is always portrayed as having been interested weIl before Clarkson turned up on his doorstep.

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