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CHAP. III. - Thomas Clarkson, An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species 
An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, particularly the African, translated from a Latin Dissertation, which was Honoured with the First Prize, in the University of Cambridge, for the Year 1785, with Additions (London: J. Phillips, 1786).
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But it was not victory alone, or any presupposed right, founded in the damages of war, that afforded a pretence for invading the liberties of mankind: the honourable light, in which piracy was considered in the uncivilized ages of the world, contributed not a little to the slavery of the human species. Piracy had a very early beginning. “The Grecians,” † says Thucydides, “in their primitive state, as well as the contemporary barbarians, who inhabited the sea coasts and islands, gave themselves wholly to it; it was, in short, their only profession and support.” The writings of Homer are sufficient of themselves to establish this account. They shew it to have been a common practice at so early a period as that of the Trojan war; and abound with many lively descriptions of it, which, had they been as groundless as they are beautiful, would have frequently spared the sigh of the reader of sensibility and reflection.
The piracies, which were thus practised in the early ages, may be considered as publick or private. In the former, whole crews embarked for the † benefit of their respective tribes. They made descents on the sea coasts, carried off cattle, surprized whole villages, put many of the inhabitants to the sword, and carried others into slavery.
In the latter, individuals only were concerned, and the emolument was their own. These landed from their ships, and, going up into the country, concealed themselves in the woods and thickets; where they waited every opportunity of catching the unfortunate shepherd or husbandman alone. In this situation they sallied out upon him, dragged him on board, conveyed him to a foreign market, and sold him for a slave.
To this kind of piracy Ulysses alludes, in opposition to the former, which he had been just before mentioning, in his question to Eumœus.
But no picture, perhaps, of this mode of depredation, is equal to that, with which‡ Xenophon presents us in the simple narrative of a dance. He informs us that the Grecian army had concluded a peace with the Paphlagonians, and that they entertained their embassadors in consequence with a banquet, and the exhibition of various feats of activity. “When the Thracians,” says he, “had performed the parts allotted them in this entertainment, some Ænianian and Magnetian soldiers rose up, and, accoutred in their proper arms, exhibited that dance, which is called Karpæa. The figure of it is thus. One of them, in the character of an husbandman, is seen to till his land, and is observed, as he drives his plough, to look frequently behind him, as if apprehensive of danger. Another immediately appears in sight, in the character of a robber. The husbandman, having seen him previously advancing, snatches up his arms. A battle ensues before the plough. The whole of this performance is kept in perfect time with the musick of the flute. At length the robber, having got the better of the husbandman, binds him, and drives him off with his team. Sometimes it happens that the husbandman subdues the robber: in this case the scene is only reversed, as the latter is then bound and driven off by the former.”
It is scarcely necessary to observe, that this dance was a representation of the general manners of men, in the more uncivilized ages of the world; shewing that the husbandman and shepherd lived in continual alarm, and that there were people in those ages, who derived their pleasures and fortunes from kidnapping and enslaving their fellow creatures.
We may now take notice of a circumstance in this narration, which will lead us to a review of our first assertion on this point, “that the honourable light, in which piracy was considered in the times of barbarism, contributed not a little to the slavery of the human species.” The robber is represented here as frequently defeated in his attempts, and as reduced to that deplorable situation, to which he was endeavouring to bring another. This shews the frequent difficulty and danger of his undertakings: people would not tamely resign their lives or liberties, without a struggle. They were sometimes prepared; were superior often, in many points of view, to these invaders of their liberty; there were an hundred accidental circumstances frequently in their favour. These adventures therefore required all the skill, strength, agility, valour, and every thing, in short, that may be supposed to constitute heroism, to conduct them with success. Upon this idea piratical expeditions first came into repute, and their frequency afterwards, together with the danger and fortitude, that were inseparably connected with them, brought them into such credit among the barbarous nations of antiquity, that of all human professions, piracy was the most honourable.*
The notions then, which were thus annexed to piratical expeditions, did not fail to produce those consequences, which we have mentioned before. They afforded an opportunity to the views of avarice and ambition, to conceal themselves under the mask of virtue. They excited a spirit of enterprize, of all others the most irresistible, as it subsisted on the strongest principles of action, emolument and honour. Thus could the vilest of passions be gratified with impunity. People were robbed, stolen, murdered, under the pretended idea that these were reputable adventures: every enormity in short was committed, and dressed up in the habiliments of honour.
But as the notions of men in the less barbarous ages, which followed, became more corrected and refined, the practice of piracy began gradually to disappear. It had hitherto been supported on the grand columns of emolument and honour. When the latter therefore was removed, it received a considerable shock; but, alas! it had still a pillar for its support! avarice, which exists in all states, and which is ready to turn every invention to its own ends, strained hard for its preservation. It had been produced in the ages of barbarism; it had been pointed out in those ages as lucrative, and under this notion it was continued. People were still stolen; many were intercepted (some, in their pursuits of pleasure, others, in the discharge of their several occupations) by their own countrymen; who previously laid in wait for them, and sold them afterwards for slaves; while others seized by merchants, who traded on the different coasts, were torn from their friends and connections, and carried into slavery. The merchants of Thessaly, if we can credit * Aristophanes who never spared the vices of the times, were particularly infamous for the latter kind of depredation; the Athenians were notorious for the former; for they had practised these robberies to such an alarming degree of danger to individuals, that it was found necessary to enact a ‡ law, which punished kidnappers with death.—But this is sufficient for our present purpose; it will enable us to assert, that there were two classes of involuntary slaves among the ancients, “of those who were taken publickly in a state of war, and of those who were privately stolen in a state of innocence and peace.” We may now add, that the children and descendents of these composed a third.
[† ]Thucydides. L. 1. sub initio.
[† ]Idem. — — — “the strongest,” says he, “engaging in these adventures, Κέϱδȣς τȣ͂ σφεεϱȣ αύτῶν ἕνεϰα ϗ̀ τοῖς ἀσθενέσι Τϱοφῆς.”
[* ]Homer. Odyss. L. 15. 385.
[‡ ]Xenoph. Κυϱȣ Αναϐ. L. 6. sub initio.
[* ] ȣ̓ϰ ἔχοντός ϖω Αἰτχύνη[Editor: illegible character] τȣ́τȣ τȣ͂ ἔϱγου, φέϱον δέ τι ϗ̀ Δόξης μᾶλλον. Thucydides. L. 1. sub initio. ϗ̀ εὐϰλὲες τȣ͂το οἰ Κίλιϰες ἐνόμιζον. Sextus Empiricus. ȣ̓ϰ ἄδοξον ἀλλ’ ἔνδοξον τȣ͂το. Schol. &c. &c.
[* ]Aristoph. Plut. Act. 2. Scene 5.
[‡ ]Zenoph. Απόμνημον, L. 1.