2 ALS to "My Dear Sir"
WILBERFORCE William (1806.)
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Manuscript in ink. 4pp. 4to. & 2pp. 8vo. London, December 16th, 1803 and May 12,
The first of these two letters contains Wilberforce's opinion on an act regarding finance. However, it also includes a lengthy postscript:
"Some of the West Indians are beginning to profess themselves friendly to at least a qualified abolition of the slave trade ... I dare not repose much confidence in them. We are indebted chiefly I believe for their fears of being beat and of the marked by the Planters of the conquered Dutch Settlements - you had better keep all this to yourself lest an opposition should be stirr'd up among those who are interested in the African trade, which might crush these first shootings in the Bud."
The second is essentially an apology for his "neglect of his correspondents". Both were written in the most important period of Wilberforce's life in the lead up to the abolition of slavery act passed in 1807.
Letter 1: London, December 16th, 1803
My Dear Sir,
I am quite ashamed to see the date of your Letter; I am not much in fault I forebore replying to it immediately on its receipt that I might send you a better opinion than my own on the point on which you consulted me & I was not able for some days to obtain this & I have since been hindered partly by Illness from communicating it. I hope you won't be discourages from applying to me in future whenever you may have Occasion, because I shall always be glad to be useful to you.
The Act in question contains many difficulties, but I own I should scarcely have anticipated that which your letter stated on Inquiry I found my own Idea confirmed viz that Bankers must pay 5 percent per annum on the interest which they pay for all sums which are lent to them by the year but that, as for interest money on Sums which they have in their hands for broken periods all they can do & ought to do, & are required by the act to do, is, to make a fair annual Estimate of their profits from all these transactions for one year & to pay 5 per cent on such profits. I hope I have expressed myself intelligently, tho' being pressed for time I have not been able to weigh my words & steady precision as much as is desirable in an explication of an act of Parliament.
No apology was requisite for the freedom of your remarks. It must be the wish of every public man who desires to do his Duty, to receive the frank & unbiased opinions of Independent men. His [?] only that he can become acquainted with the actual Effects of measures, & with the Reception they are likely to experience when on other occasions it maybe intended to have recourse to them.
I remain my dear Sir, yours very sincerely, W. Wilberforce.
PS Some of the West Indians are beginning to profess themselves friendly to at least a qualified abolition of the slave trade ... I dare not repose much confidence in them. We are indebted chiefly I believe for their fears of being beat and of the marked by the Planters of the conquered Dutch Settlements - you had better keep all this to yourself lest an opposition should be stirr'd up among those who are interested in the African trade, which might crush these first shootings in the Bud.
Letter 2: House of Commons Monday May 12th, 1806.
My Dear Sir,
I am at present so much engrossed by Parliamentary Business both County and Public that I am forced to neglect my correspondents. On some points of your Letter I own I differ from you tho I certainly think that it is very ill judged in government to push the principle so far, as they have proposed & still seem disposed to do; especially until it clearly shall become indispensably necessary. I now write at a ?commune table where I sit daily even Saturdays from 12 to past 4 & after scarcely any interval of 1/2 an hour for refreshment, the House claiming our attenance I [?] to excuse my hastening to subscribe myself.
My dear Sir,
PS Both Lord Grenville [then Prime Minister] & Mr Fox [Tory MP] do themselves the highest honour by their conduct respecting abolition.
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