Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Niel Douglas on the Abolition of
    the Slave Trade

    [Niel Douglas]. The African Slave Trade: or a Short View of the Evidence, relative to that subject, produced before the House of Commons [in 1791], Interspersed with such Remarks as naturally flowed from it. All meant to evince The sound policy and moral obligation of its Immediate and Entire Abolition: as also, Of adopting such measures as may ascertain Liberty to the present Slaves in due time. Edinburgh: Published by J. Guthrie; and sold by the principal Booksellers in Town and Country, 1792. First edition. Octavo (8.25 x 5 inches; 210 x 127 mm.). [4], [3]-206 pages. Signatures: A-Z4 Aa-Bb4 Cc2. Engraved frontispiece by McIntyre. Errata precedes text. Includes bibliographical references.

    Contemporary sheep. Smooth spine divided into compartments by double gilt fillets, with black leather label decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt. Binding quite worn, with some surface loss; boards exposed at corners; front cover held by a single cord; rear joint cracked. Lacking front free endpaper. Frontispiece partially detached. Some foxing and browning; dampstaining in the gutter, heaviest on the first eight leaves. Tiny edge tears to frontispiece and title.
    Pencil signature on front pastedown: James Stevens? Marginal annotations in pencil and blue pencil throughout. A good copy, obviously well used.

    ESTC T87555. Goldsmiths'-Kress 15381. Peter Hogg, The African Slave Trade and Its Suppression (2014), 2124.

    More Information:

    "Subjoined is an Appendix [pages [153]-202], containing the late Debate in the House of Commons upon the important question of the Slave Trade, with some strictures on that Debate, and the decision which closed it; also a specimen of the Resolutions advertised to the Public respecting it, &c. and a Paraphrase of the Song of Moses in verse; or the Triumph of the rescued Captives over their oppressors" (verso of title-page). "Moses' Song Paraphrased, or the Triumph rescued Captives over their incorrigible Oppressors" (pages 202-206).


    "Describes the cruelty of the slave trade and colonial slavery; with an appendix containing a summary of the House of Commons debate in April 1792 and various abolitionist documents" (Hogg).


    "Douglas, Niel [pseud. Britannicus] (1750-1823), poet and minister of the Relief church, was educated at the University of Glasgow...As minister of the Relief church at Cupar, Fife, he published Sermons on Important Subjects, with some Essays in Poetry in 1789. Among the poems are two extremely loyal odes on the king's illness and recovery, to which their author referred nearly thirty years later when charged with disaffection to the royal family. Under the pseudonym of Britannicus, Douglas next published A Monitory Address to Great Britain in 1792, lamenting the degeneracy of the times and calling upon the king to abolish the anti-Christian practices of the slave trade, duelling, and church patronage. That same year he published The African Slave Trade, and the year after, Thoughts on Modern Politics [a poem on the slave trade, with other matter]" (Gordon Goodwin, in Oxford DNB Online).


    "It was to the honour of the Rev. Neil [sic] Douglas, then Relief minister of Cupar, that he, in the spirit of the Relief synod with which he was connected, wrought up the evidence into a large pamphlet of two hundred pages, interspersed with remarks, and had it sold and dispersed throughout the country. It met with a rapid and wide circulation. It was deserving of both. It is crowded with facts on the best authority, and is pointedly and eloquently written. Its effect upon the public mind must have been rousing and salutary; and not the less so, that it came out anonymously, and was not known to be the production of a Relief dissenting minister. As the pamphlet of Douglas was passing through the press, Wilberforce brought on the question of abolition in parliament. Dundas (afterwards Lord Melville), whose political career was distinguished for adroit management, stepped forward with a motion for its gradual abolition, which a temporizing House of Common cheerfully adopted. By this means he got 'the murderous traffic' continued for other twenty years. This clever cunning, and unprincipled statesman triumphed among men who wished to be deceived, by representing abolitionists as mere animated 'by a false and sickly humanity.' The panacea for the slave-trade was to be moderation in carrying it one, and its gradual abolition in the course of a few years. Fox, in a noble burst of eloquence, tore the mask from the deceptive measure. 'They had hit on a means to preserve the traffic for years, perhaps for ever. He rose to deprecate all deceptions and delusions. He knew it was an unpopular thing to renounce moderation; but he did not profess moderation on this subject'" (Gavin Struthers, The History of the Rise, Progress and Principles of The Relief Church (Glasgow: 1843), pages 349-350).

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    Calculate Standard Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2016
    6th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 210

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $200,000 (minimum $14), plus 20% of any amount between $200,000 and $2,000,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,000,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 19 days left to consign to the 2018 October 25 Manuscripts - Dallas!

    Learn about consigning with us

    This was my first time dealing with an auction house, and I am 100% completely impressed with Heritage. There is not an aspect of this process that I have a critique for.
    Darryl S.,
    Stuart, FL
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2018 June 10 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas
    2018 June 10 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $615,551