Saturday, March 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Thomas Clarkson

Lest we forget that many great men gave their lives working for the good of others, it is important to remember men like Thomas Clarkson. A close associate of William Wilberforce, both men were instrumental in the abolution of slavery in the British Empire and ultimately in the United States.

Amazing Grace, a film about Wilberforce and the struggle against the slave trade, directed by Michael Apted with Ioan Gruffudd as William Wilberforce, was released in 2007 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the date on which Parliament voted to ban the transport of slaves by British subjects.

The poet William Wordsworth was so impressed with Clarkson's achievements that he wrote this sonnet to him.

Sonnet, To Thomas Clarkson, On the final passing of the Bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, March, 1807.

Clarkson! it was an obstinate Hill to climb:
How toilsome, nay how dire it was, by Thee
Is known,—by none, perhaps, so feelingly;
But Thou, who, starting in thy fervent prime,
Didst first lead forth this pilgrimage sublime,
Hast heard the constant Voice its charge repeat,
Which, out of thy young heart’s oracular seat,
First roused thee.—O true yoke-fellow of Time
With unabating effort, see, the palm
Is won, and by all Nations shall be worn!
The bloody Writing is for ever torn,
And Thou henceforth wilt have a good Man’s calm,
A great Man’s happiness; thy zeal shall find
Repose at length, firm Friend of human kind!
William Wordsworth

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