It shows us, secondly, how that encouraging maxim may become true, That no good effort is ever lost. For if he, who makes the virtuous attempt, should be prevented by death from succeeding in it, can he not speak, though in the tomb? Will not his works still breathe his sentiments upon it? May not the opinions, and the facts, which he has recorded, meet the approbation of ten thousand readers, of whom it is probable, in the common course of things, that some will branch out of him as authors, and others as actors or labourers, in the same cause?
And, lastly, it will show us the difficulty (if any attempt should be made) of reversing permanently the late noble act of the legislature for the abolition of the Slave Trade. For let us consider how many, both of the living and the dead, could be, made to animate us. Let us consider, too, that this is the cause of mercy, justice, and religion; that as such, it will always afford renewed means of rallying; and that the dead will always be heard with interest, and the living with enthusiasm upon it.
[Sidenote: Author devotes this chapter to considerations relative to himself; fears that by the frequent introduction of himself to the notice of the reader he may incur the charge of ostentation.—Observations on such a charge.]
Having brought my history of the abolition of the Slave Trade up to the month of May 1787, I purpose taking the liberty, before I proceed with it, to devote this chapter to considerations relative to myself. This, indeed, seems to be now necessary; for I have been fearful for some pages past, and, indeed, from the time when I began to introduce myself to the notice of the reader, as one of the forerunners and coadjutors in this great cause, that I might appear to have put myself into a situation too prominent, so as even to have incurred the charge of ostentation. But if there should be some who, in consequence of what they have already read of this history, should think thus unfavourably of me, what must their opinion ultimately be, when, unfortunately, I must become still more prominent in it! Nor do I know in what manner I shall escape their censure: for if, to avoid egotism, I should write, as many have done, in the third person, what would this profit me? The delicate situation, therefore, in which I feel myself to be placed, makes me desirous of saying a few words to the reader on this subject.
And first, I may observe, that several of my friends urged me from time to time, and this long before the abolition of the Slave Trade had been effected, to give a history of the rise and progress of the attempt, as far as it had been then made; but I uniformly resisted their application.