Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Slavery. A letter to the Leeds Mercury

Dear Sir, about that silly woman and Boris ...

In Just where do you start?, I mentioned my disgust at Lady Davson and her supporting piece of Litmus Paper, Boris Johnson, who changes political colour to suit, saying they demanded an apology from white Britains for the slavery of the past.
"The white population of Great Britain has got to be on its knees to make things right. The apology should be visible to show we accept that we effected the most awful wounds on a huge number of people."
Well it seems that the article might have prompted a time travelling A Briton to write to the Leeds Mercury...back in 1830.

To the Editors of the Leeds Mercury,

'It is the pride of Britain that a slave cannot exist on her soil; and if I read the genius of her constitution aright, I find that slavery is most abhorrent to it – that the air which Britons breathed is free – the ground on which they tread is sacred to liberty'.

Rev.R.W.Hamilton's speech at the meeting held in the Cloth-hall Yard, September 22nd, 1830.

Gentlemen, - No heart responded with truer accents to the sounds of liberty which were heard in the Leeds Cloth-hall Yard, on the 22nd instant, than did mine, … One shade alone obscured my pleasure, arising not from any difference in principle, but from the want of application of the general principle to the whole empire.

The pious and able champions of Negro liberty and colonial rights should, if I mistake not, have gone farther than they did; or perhaps, to speak more correctly, before they had travelled so far as the West Indies, should, at least for a few moments, have sojourned in our own immediate neighbourhood, and have directed the attention of the meeting to scenes of misery, acts of oppression, and victims of slavery, even on the threshold of our homes.

Let truth speak out, appalling as the statement may appear. The fact is true.

Thousands of our fellow-creatures and fellow-subjects, both male and female, the miserable inhabitants of a Yorkshire town (Yorkshire now represented in Parliament by the giant of anti-slavery principles are this very moment existing in a state of slavery, more horrid than are the victims of that hellish system 'colonial slavery'…'.

The very streets which receive the droppings of an 'Anti-Slavery Society' are every morning wet by the tears of innocent victims at the accursed shrine of avarice, who are compelled (not by the cart-whip of the negro slave-driver) but by the dread of the equally appalling thong or strap of the over-looker, to hasten, half-dressed, but not half-fed, to those magazines of British infantile slavery – the worsted mills in the town and neighbourhood of Bradford!!!…'

Thousands of little children, both male and female, but principally female, from seven to fourteen years of age, are daily compelled to labour from six o'clock in the morning to seven in the evening, with only – Britons, blush while you read it! – with only thirty minutes allowed for eating and recreation…..

If I have succeeded in calling the attention of your readers to the horrid and abominable system on which the worsted mills in and near Bradford is conducted, I have done some good. Why should not children working in them be protected by legislative enactments, as well as those who work in cotton mills? Christians should feel and act for those whom Christ so eminently loved, and declared that 'of such is the Kingdom of Heaven'.

I remain, yours, etc.,'

A Briton

Fixby Hall, near Huddersfield, Sept. 29, 1830
Letter to the Leeds Mercury from Richard Oastler, Fixby Hall, near Huddersfield, 29 September, 1830. Printed in the Leeds Mercury, 16 October 1830 quoted in Ward, J.T, (ed.), The Factory System, Vol 2: The Factory System and Society, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1970

Hat tip: Zorro



English Rose said...

Yes this is true, while people complain about the shit that happened to them, we didn't exactly have it easy, we were put through hell, made to be servants, slaves etc, children working, being put down chimneys etc. I feel I don't have a thing to apologise for. Black people got an education coming here and the best in the world, (well that was then.) I can really feel the tension mounting in this country. We can't take much more, I am just wondering what will be the straw that breaks the camals back.

Anonymous said...

Just goes to show that even back then some people were very aware, and no doubt classed as hetetical by those in power who had their own remit. The truth is no defence, as Mr Bliar would say, though I wonder what that upstanding paragon of decency and pride in his own, "Mr Fister" would make of it all. lol. Ahhh, "Mr Fister"..that so cool title just about sums up the type of excrement that haunt the corridors of leftwing lunacy.

Anonymous said...

The situation in every branch of British industry was the same. Seven year olds laboured in the coalmines and shipyards.They worked on the docks. People were killed or injured, and just thrown on the scrapheap with no means of support. And every initiative to improve their lot was blocked in Parliament by, among others, Wilberforce.

And this aristocrat has the cheek to tell the rest of us we should feel guilty, because we are the same colour as those who made money out of black slavery? If that isn't racism, what is?


Anonymous said...

Celtic Morning. There is only one way to deal with these aristocratic idiots, male or female. First. Ballucs. And then F... Off. Where was she yesterday, bidding a couple of million quid for a dead calf in a tank of formaldehyde? These are the idiots of the establishment who decide our future. We should have followed the lead of France in the eighteenth century and carted the whole bloody lot to the chopper. ( Sorry, cant spell guillotine)