“I WAS SOLD TO MASSA HARD… AND AGAIN MY BACK WAS SCARR’D”: HANNAH MORE’S FAMOUS ANTI-SLAVERY POEM, SORROWS OF YAMBA
MORE, Hannah and SMITH, Eaglesfield. The Sorrows of Yamba; Or, The Negro Woman’s Lamentation. To the Tune of Hosier’s Ghost. London: Cheap Repository for Religious and Moral Tracts (J. Marshall), circa 1800. Broadside, pale gray wove stock (11 by 17-1/2 inches). Floated and framed, entire piece measures 21 by 14-1/2 inches. $2200.
Early broadside printing of More’s influential abolitionist poem, with a wood-engraved vignette picturing a slave being rescued by a cleric. “Beyond any doubt, Hannah More was the most influential female member of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the African Slave Trade” (Carey).
Samuel Johnson once called Hannah More “the most ‘powerful versificatrix in the English language” (DNB). “She did, perhaps, as much real good in her generation as any woman that has ever held the pen” (Allibone, 1361). More built a reputation as a great moral writer. In 1787, she met leading abolitionist William Wilberforce, and their friendship “was to become a deep and lasting one. More contributed much to the running of the newly-founded Abolition Society including, in February 1788, her publication of Slavery, a Poem, recognized as one of the more important anti-slavery poems of the period… Throughout the 1790s, she wrote a number of religious tracts, called the Cheap Repository Tracts, that eventually led to the formation of the Religious Tracts Society” (Brycchan Carey). The Sorrows of Yamba (traditionally ascribed to More) first appeared in the November 1795 issue of the Cheap Repository. Recent scholarship, however, suggests that a short form of the poem was originally created by Eaglesfield Smith, to which More made additions (see Alan Richardson). The provocative vignette was probably engraved after English cuts by John Bewick (see Spinney, 311).
Fine condition. Beautifully framed.