The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African.

As to the difference of colour between the Eboan Africans and the modern Jews, I shall not presume to account for it.  It is a subject which has engaged the pens of men of both genius and learning, and is far above my strength.  The most able and Reverend Mr. T. Clarkson, however, in his much admired Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, has ascertained the cause, in a manner that at once solves every objection on that account, and, on my mind at least, has produced the fullest conviction.  I shall therefore refer to that performance for the theory[H], contenting myself with extracting a fact as related by Dr. Mitchel[I].  “The Spaniards, who have inhabited America, under the torrid zone, for any time, are become as dark coloured as our native Indians of Virginia; of which I myself have been a witness.”  There is also another instance[J] of a Portuguese settlement at Mitomba, a river in Sierra Leona; where the inhabitants are bred from a mixture of the first Portuguese discoverers with the natives, and are now become in their complexion, and in the woolly quality of their hair, perfect negroes, retaining however a smattering of the Portuguese language.

These instances, and a great many more which might be adduced, while they shew how the complexions of the same persons vary in different climates, it is hoped may tend also to remove the prejudice that some conceive against the natives of Africa on account of their colour.  Surely the minds of the Spaniards did not change with their complexions!  Are there not causes enough to which the apparent inferiority of an African may be ascribed, without limiting the goodness of God, and supposing he forbore to stamp understanding on certainly his own image, because “carved in ebony.”  Might it not naturally be ascribed to their situation?  When they come among Europeans, they are ignorant of their language, religion, manners, and customs.  Are any pains taken to teach them these?  Are they treated as men?  Does not slavery itself depress the mind, and extinguish all its fire and every noble sentiment?  But, above all, what advantages do not a refined people possess over those who are rude and uncultivated.  Let the polished and haughty European recollect that his ancestors were once, like the Africans, uncivilized, and even barbarous.  Did Nature make them inferior to their sons? and should they too have been made slaves?  Every rational mind answers, No.  Let such reflections as these melt the pride of their superiority into sympathy for the wants and miseries of their sable brethren, and compel them to acknowledge, that understanding is not confined to feature or colour.  If, when they look round the world, they feel exultation, let it be tempered with benevolence to others, and gratitude to God, “who hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth[K]; and whose wisdom is not our wisdom, neither are our ways his ways.”

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The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.