The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
To the Reader
An invidious falsehood having appeared in the Oracle of the 25th, and the Star of the 27th of April 1792, with a view to hurt my character, and to discredit and prevent the sale of my Narrative, asserting, that I was born in the Danish island of Santa Cruz, in the West Indies, it is necessary that, in this edition, I should take notice thereof, and it is only needful for me to appeal to those numerous and respectable persons of character who knew me when I first arrived in England, and could speak no language but that of Africa.
Under this appeal, I now offer this edition of my Narrative to the candid reader, and to the friends of humanity, hoping it may still be the means, in its measure, of showing the enormous cruelties practised on my sable brethren, and strengthening the generous emulation now prevailing in this country, to put a speedy end to a traffic both cruel and unjust.
Edinburgh, June 1792.
Alexander Tillock to John Monteith, Esq. Glasgow.
Your note of the 30th ult. I would have answered in course; but wished first to be able to inform you what paper we had taked the article from which respected Gustavus Vassa. By this day’s post, have sent you a copy of the Oracle of Wednesday the 25th — in the last column of the 3d page, you will find the article from which we inserted the one in the Star of the 27th ult. — If it be erroneous, you will see it had not its origin with us. As to G. V. I know nothing about him.
After examining the paragraph in the Oracle, which immediately follows the one in question, I am inclined to believe that the one respecting G. V. may have been fabricated by some of the advocates for continuing the Slave Trade, for the purpose of weakening he force of the evidence brought against that trade; for, I believe, if they could, hey would stifle the evidence altogether.
Having sent you the Oracle, we have sent all that we can say about the business. I am,
Your most humble Servant,
Star Office, 5th May, 1792.
From the Rev. Dr. J. Baker, or May Fair Chapel, London, to Mr. Gustavus Vassa, at David Dale’s Esq. Glasgow.
I went after Mr. Millan (the printer of he Oracle), but he was not at home. I understood that an apology would be made to you, and I desired t might be a proper one, such as would give fair satisfaction, and take off any disadvantageous impressions which the paragraph alluded to may have made. Whether the matter will bear an action or not, I do not know, and have not inquired whether you can punish by law; because I think it is not worth while to go to the expence of a law-suit, especially if a proper apology is made; for, can any man that reads your Narrative believe that you are not a native of Africe? I see therefore no good reason for not printing a fifth edition, on account of a scandalous paragraph in a new paper.
- I remain,
- Dear Sir,
- Your sincere Friend,
- Dear Sir,
- I remain,
Grosvenor-street, May 14, 1792.
- ↑ My friend Mrs. Baynes, formerly Miss Guerin, at Southampton, and many others of her friends.
John Hill, Esq. Custom-house, Dublin
Admiral George Balfour, Portsmouth.
Captain Gallia, Greenock.
Mrs. Shaw, James-street, Covent Garden, London.
- "Speak of me as I am,/ Nothing extenuate, nor set down aught/ In malice." ↵
- I may now justly say,/ "There is a lust in man no charm can tame,/ "Of loundly publishing his heighbour's shame;/ "On eagles wings immortal scandals fly,/ "But virtuous actions are but born and die." London. The County Chronicle, and Weekly Advertiser for Essex, Herts, Kent, Surry, Middlesex, &c. Tuesday, February 19th, 1788.—Postscript."We are sorry the want of room prevents us from giving place to the favors of Gustavus Vassa on the Slave Trade. The zeal of this worthy African, in favour of his brethren, would do honour to any colour or to any cause. ↵
- My friend Mrs. Baynes, formerly Miss Guerin, at Southampton, and many others of her friends. John Hill, Esq. Custom-house, Dublin. Admir [illegible] Admiral George Balfour, Portsmouth. Captain Gallia, Greenock. Mrs. Shaw, James-street, Covent Garden, London. ↵