Feeling Out Loud: Sentimental Rhetoric in Parliament, the Pulpit, and the Court of Law

  • Brycchan Carey
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Cultures of Print book series (PERCP)

Abstract

Spoken rhetoric was as important to the campaign against the slave trade as it was to any other political activity. At the local level, scenes of oratory included meetings, debates, readings, and hustings. At another level, priests and judges pronounced on the spiritual and legal reasons why slavery and the trade should, or should not, be tolerated. Finally, at the point when the campaign came nearest to realising its goals, Parliament took up the question, debating for long hours in committee rooms and, at last, in the chamber of the House of Commons itself. For the most part, these many speeches and conversations are utterly lost to us. Minutes of abolition meetings tend to record resolutions, not the debates that led up to them. Most of the many sermons preached each week were neither published nor preserved. Court records, with forensic pedantry, record many forms of evidence including personal testimony, but remain legally blind to tone, nuance, and innuendo. Even Parliamentary debate itself is represented to us, not through the verbatim reports that would later appear in The Official Record, otherwise known as Hansard, but through competing and contradictory reports in newspapers and magazines. Quite clearly, scholars face a difficult task in the attempt to reconstruct or analyse the role of spoken rhetoric in the abolition debate.

Keywords

Propa Income Assure Expense Posit 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    For a survey of the critical literature, see Lori Anne Ferrell and Peter McCullough, ‘Revising the Study of the English Sermon’, in The English Sermon Revised: Religion, Literature and History 1600–1750 ed. Lori Anne Ferrell and Peter McCullough (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), pp. 2–21.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The most important book examining sermons along literary lines is James Downey, The Eighteenth Century Pulpit: A Study of the Sermons of Butler, Berkeley, Secker, Sterne, Whitefield and Wesley (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969). Most historical work on the eighteenth-century political sermon is contained in short articles.Google Scholar
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  30. 79.
    A considerable historiography has grown up around this case. The most important contributions are: Jerome Nadelhaft, ‘The Somersett Case and Slavery: Myth, Reality, and Repercussions’, Journal of Negro History, LI (1966), 193–208;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  34. 93.
    Philip D. Curtin, ‘Ayuba Suleiman Diallo of Bondu’, in Africa Remembered: Narratives by West Africans from the Era of the Slave Trade, ed. Philip D. Curtin (Madison and London: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967), pp. 17–59, p. 17.Google Scholar
  35. 97.
    The cartoon is reprinted in Mary A. Favret, ‘Flogging: The Antislavery Movement Writes Pornography’, Essays and Studies 1998: Romanticism and Gender, ed. Anne Janowitz (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1998), pp. 19–43, p. 20,Google Scholar
  36. and in Marcus Wood, Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in England and America 1780–1865 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), p. 160. It is also widely available on the Internet.Google Scholar

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© Brycchan Carey 2005

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  • Brycchan Carey

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