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William hazlitt essay on reading old books

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British politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to stop the slave trade. In 1787, he came into contact with Thomas Clarkson and a group of anti-slave-trade activists, including Granville Sharp, Hannah More and Charles Middleton. Wilberforce was convinced of the importance of religion, morality and education. In later years, Wilberforce supported the campaign for the complete abolition of slavery, and continued his involvement after 1826, when he resigned from Parliament because of his failing health. That campaign led to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire. Wilberforce was a small, sickly and delicate child with poor eyesight.

In 1767, he began attending Hull Grammar School, at the time headed by a young, dynamic headmaster, Joseph Milner, who was to become a lifelong friend. Wilberforce’s staunchly Church of England mother and grandfather, alarmed at these nonconformist influences and at his leanings towards evangelicalism, brought the 12-year-old boy back to Hull in 1771. Wilberforce was heartbroken at being separated from his aunt and uncle. In October 1776, at the age of 17, Wilberforce went up to St John’s College, Cambridge.

1780, he and Pitt frequently watched House of Commons debates from the gallery. Pitt, already set on a political career, encouraged Wilberforce to join him in obtaining a parliamentary seat. A statue of William Wilberforce outside Wilberforce House, his birthplace in Hull. Wilberforce attended Parliament regularly, but he also maintained a lively social life, becoming an habitué of gentlemen’s gambling clubs such as Goostree’s and Boodle’s william hazlitt essay on reading old books Pall Mall, London. I listened, he grew, and grew, until the shrimp became a whale.

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France for a six-week holiday together. Pitt became Prime Minister in December 1783, with Wilberforce a key supporter of his minority government. Despite their close friendship, there is no record that Pitt offered Wilberforce a ministerial position in this or future governments. In October 1784, Wilberforce embarked upon a tour of Europe which would ultimately change his life and determine his future career. After his earlier interest in evangelical religion when he was young, Wilberforce’s journey to faith seems to have begun afresh at this time.

He started to rise early to read the Bible and pray and kept a private journal. At the time, religious enthusiasm was generally regarded as a social transgression and was stigmatised in polite society. In 1786, Wilberforce leased a house in Old Palace Yard, Westminster, in order to be near Parliament. He began using his parliamentary position to advocate reform by introducing a Registration Bill, proposing limited changes to parliamentary election procedures. The British initially became involved in the slave trade during the 16th century. By 1783, the triangular route that took British-made goods to Africa to buy slaves, transported the enslaved to the West Indies, and then brought slave-grown products such as sugar, tobacco, and cotton to Britain, represented about 80 percent of Great Britain’s foreign income. The British campaign to abolish the slave trade is generally considered to have begun in the 1780s with the establishment of the Quakers’ anti-slavery committees, and their presentation to Parliament of the first slave trade petition in 1783.

Wilberforce apparently did not follow up on his meeting with Ramsay. However, three years later, and inspired by his new faith, Wilberforce was growing interested in humanitarian reform. In November 1786, he received a letter from Sir Charles Middleton that re-opened his interest in the slave trade. In early 1787, Thomas Clarkson, a fellow graduate of St John’s, Cambridge, who had become convinced of the need to end the slave trade after writing a prize-winning essay on the subject while at Cambridge, called upon Wilberforce at Old Palace Yard with a published copy of the work.

It was arranged that Bennet Langton, a Lincolnshire landowner and mutual acquaintance of Wilberforce and Clarkson, would organize a dinner party in order to ask Wilberforce formally to lead the parliamentary campaign. The same spring, on 12 May 1787, the still hesitant Wilberforce held a conversation with William Pitt and the future Prime Minister William Grenville as they sat under a large oak tree on Pitt’s estate in Kent. Wilberforce’s involvement in the abolition movement was motivated by a desire to put his Christian principles into action and to serve God in public life. He and other evangelicals were horrified by what they perceived was a depraved and un-Christian trade, and the greed and avarice of the owners and traders. On 22 May 1787, the first meeting of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade took place, bringing like-minded British Quakers and Anglicans together in the same organisation for the first time. Am I Not A Man And A Brother?

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Dykstra is a graduate of Luther College, where she received her BA in biology.

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