Abolitionists and Working-Class Problems in the Age of by Betty Fladeland

By Betty Fladeland

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By the last half of the century the Society of Friends was bearing a stronger testimony against the trade, and William the third (c. 1728-1789) extended the Rathbone company's policy against it by refusing to sell timber to firms that built slavers. 6 A Quartet of Liverpudlians 19 The first eight bags and three barrels of American cotton to reach Liverpool from America in 1784 were consigned to the firm of William Rathbone and Son, and as the trade in cotton increased it posed further problems of conscience, settled completely and finally only in 1862 when the firm refused, on grounds of both morality and expediency, to buy any more.

On evening walks they enjoyed Italian poetry, and would get up early in the morning to meet other friends to read and discuss the classics before their work day began. Falling in love with all things Italian, Roscoe dreamed of making Liverpool into a Venice of the North. Perhaps that accounted, in part, for his hatred of the slave trade, which he saw as sullying the good name of his town. Intrigued by the Italian tradition of art patronage and especially by Lorenzo de' Medici, Roscoe not only wrote a biography of him but also emulated Lorenzo as a banker, poet and patron of the arts.

Forget not, Britain, higher still than thee Sits the great Judge of Nations .... Rushton's first and major poem against slavery, West Indian Eclogues, came out in 1787 also. His setting was Jamaica and his characters two slaves who recall their homes in Africa to contrast past happiness with present misery. Strong emphasis is given to the sexual lust of the master, who has taken the wife of one of them, and the slave is now tortured by gnawing visions of her succumbing to him, perhaps even willingly as a way to gain comforts and privileges.

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