Africa And Colonization. -- By: W. G. T. Shedd

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 014:55 (Jul 1857)
Article: Africa And Colonization.
Author: W. G. T. Shedd

Africa And Colonization.1

Professor William G. T. Shedd

On the 22d of March, 1775, Edmund Burke, pleading for the liberties of the American Colonies, in the British House of Commons, had occasion to allude to their marvellous growth, as outrunning everything of the kind in the then past history of England, or the world. In less than seventy years, he said, the trade with America had increased twelve fold. It had grown from a half-million of pounds per annum to six millions — a sum nearly equal to the whole export trade of England at the commencement of the eighteenth

century. This rapid growth, he continued, might all be spanned by the life of a single man, “whose memory might touch the two extremities.” Lord Bathurst was old enough, in 1704, to understand the figures and the facts, as they then stood. The same Lord Bathurst, in 1775, was a member of that parliament, before whom the great orator was reciting the new facts that were stranger than fiction, in order to waken England to a consciousness that the colonies beyond the sea were bone of her bone and flesh of her flesh, and must be treated accordingly. Warming from the gravity of his theme, and rising in soul as the vision slowly evolved before him, he represents the guardian angel of the youthful Bathurst as drawing aside the curtain of the future and unfolding the rising glories of his country; and particularly as pointing him, while absorbed in the commercial grandeur of England, to “a little speck scarce visible in the mass of the national interest, a small seminal principle, rather than a formed body,” and as saying to him: “Young man, there is America; which, at this day, serves for little more than to amuse you with stories of savage men and uncouth manners; yet shall, before you taste of death, show itself equal to the whole of that commerce which now attracts the envy of the world.” 2

We have alluded to this well-known but ever fresh and fine prosopopæia of the great Englishman, because it spontaneously comes into memory when one commences to read, to think, or to speak upon Africa. That tropical continent lies nearly as dim and vague before the mind of this generation, as the cold and cheerless America did before the mind of England when Johnson and Burke were boys. With the exception of a small strip of the Atlantic coast, the wilds of this Western world were as unknown to the Englishman of 1700, as the jungles of Soudan or the highlands of Central Africa are to us. And yet it may be that there are youth of this generation who will live to see those dim beginnings of Christianity, of civilization, and of empi...

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