Artist: Robert Edge Pine
Commentary by Brian Russell Roberts
Assistant Professor of English
When he was twenty-two years old, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (later to emerge as the famous British Romantic poet) gave a “Lecture on the Slave Trade” at the Assembly Coffee-house in Bristol, England. Advocating the abolition of slavery, Coleridge argued that boycotting slave-produced goods would put a stop to the slave trade; of West Indian sugar, rum, cotton, logwood, cocoa, coffee, pimento, ginger, indigo, and mahogany, Coleridge maintained, “Not one of these articles are necessary.” He argued against luxury and asserted that an individual human’s needs are so modest that slavery makes no sense: “What Nature demands, she will supply, asking for it that necessary portion only of Toil, which would otherwise have been necessary as Exercise.” To consider the history behind the cup held by Mrs. Reid in Robert Edge Pine’s Portrait of Mrs. Reid in the Character of a Sultana, look behind Mrs. Reid.
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