December 2 is International Abolition of Slavery Day.
“One kernel is felt in a hogshead; one drop of water helps to swell the ocean; a spark of fire helps to give light to the world. None are too small, too feeble, too poor to be of service. Think of this and act.”
— Hannah More
Hannah More who lived from 1745 to 1833 was a well-known writer of her time. Educated by her father who ran a girls’ boarding school, she suffered a broken engagement early in life with led to a nervous breakdown. However, upon recovering she pursed a prolific writing career. Her first works were moralistic plays for schools. Her book Sacred Dramas went through nineteen editions. She became friends with Samuel Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, and David Garrick, going on to write successful plays for the stage. Her play Percy was performed at Covent Garden to great success. Under the influence of William Wilberforce she become very involved in the anti-slavery cause. The excerpt below was taken from her poem The Black Slave Trade written in the 1790s.
Whene’er to Afric’s shores I turn my eyes,
Horrors of deepest, deadliest guilt arise;
I see, by more than Fancy’s mirrow shewn,
The burning village, and the blazing town:
See the dire victim torn from social life,
The shrieking babe, the agonizing wife!
She, wretch forlorn! is dragg’d by hostile hands,
To distant tyrants sold, in distant lands!
Transmitted miseries, and successive chains,
The sole sad heritage her child obtains!
Ev’n this last wretched boon their foes deny,
To weep together, or together die.
By felon hands, by one relentless stroke,
See the fond links of feeling nature broke!
The fibres twisting round a parent’s heart,
Torn from their grasp, and bleeding as they part.
Hold, murderers, hold! not aggravate distress;
Respect the passions you yourselves possess;
Ev’n you, of ruffian heart, and ruthless hand,
Love your own offspring, love your native land.
From The Works of Hannah More vol. 2 1832 p. 111
Slavery still exists. Read Today’s Hidden Slave Trade to learn more.
4 Replies to “Hannah More on Slavery”
Thanks for the interesting history (her story) on this brave woman.
I am overwhelmed by the number of women writers and thinkers that I never knew about until I started researching for this blog.
You may want to submit some of it to Jennifer L. Shelton over at FemCentral. She showcases a Woman of the Week. Her site is filled with the woo woo, so to speak, and I’m not sure if you’re into that. I think the Woman of the Week might be right up your alley.