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Frederick Douglass to Richard D. Webb, mid-January 1846



[Glasgow, Scot. mid-January 1846].


I have recieved the Books, and your letter of 10th ultimo.1Ultimo, often abbreviated “ult.,” means of or occurring in the month preceding the present. The letter from Richard D. Webb has not been located. I have addopted your advice as to how I might correct and amend the narrative. You asked my opinion of the portrait.2In the first Dublin edition of the Narrative, Webb reproduced the original frontispiece from the first Boston edition. When all copies of the first Dublin printing had been sold, Webb prepared a second edition, incorporating changes at Douglass’s direction. Webb also commissioned a new engraving for the book’s frontispiece, but Douglass, who had an aversion to any illustrations for his autobiographies, disliked it, and an alternative was used. Douglass Papers, ser. 2, 1:xxx, 95–96. I gave it, and still adhere to it,—though I hope not without due deference to yourself, and those who think with you. That the picture don’t suit is no fault of yours—or loss of yours—I am displeased with it not because I wish to be, but because I can[’]t help it. I am cirtain the engraving is not as good, as the original portrait. I don[’]t like it, and I have said so without heat or thunder. Pardon me if I venture to say you have trifled with me in regard to getting letters from clergymen. You were the first to suggest and advise it,—and now that I have taken the advice you are the first to condemn, and oppose it. You ought to have thought of your predjudice against priest’s sooner. If clergymen read my narrative and approve of it, My predjudice against their office would be but a poor reason for rejecting the benifit of such approval.—The enclosed is from Mr. Nelson3Presbyterian minister Isaac Nelson’s letter appeared in an appendix to the Narrative. Douglass Papers, ser. 2, 1:165. the Presbyteran Minister[.] I wish both it, and that of Dr. Drew,4Thomas Drew. to be inserted in the second edition. To leave them out because they are ministers would be to show ones self as much and more sectarian than themselves. It would be vertually forbiding their casting out devils because they follow not us.5An adaptation of Mark 9:38 and Luke 9:49. The spirit of bigotry and sectarianism may exist, and be as deeply rooted in those who condemn sects, as those who adhere to them, but I have no time to discuss the question—nor is it necesseary. Be so kind as to send me at once, three hundred copies of the Narritive to the care of Wm. Smeale6William Smeal (1793–1877), a Glasgow Quaker and tea merchant, was a founding member and secretary of the Glasgow Emancipation Society. He and his brother, Robert, also edited and published the British Friend, a monthly Quaker journal, in 1843. A supporter of William Lloyd Garrison, Smeal believed that abolitionism could be achieved only as part of a wide reform program. A strong Union supporter during the Civil War, Smeal helped prevent clippers bound for the Confederacy from leaving Glasgow. C. Duncan Rice, The Scots Abolitionists, 1833–1861 (Baton Rouge, La., 1981), 37, 41–44; Temperley, British Antislavery, 210–13; Garrison and Garrison, William Lloyd Garrison, 2:398, 402; 4:67, 222–23, 283. 161 Gallowgate. They will come safest by sending them in a strong box.

Let me have the second edition as soon [as] Possible. Making it shorter


and thicker agreable to your suggestion, in your former letter. Get as good, and if you can get better paper than that used in the first edition.

My first meeting here will be held tomorrow Ev. in the City Hall, a very large building.7On 15 January 1846, less than a week after he arrived in Scotland, Douglass spoke in Glasgow City Hall before a public meeting of the Glasgow Emancipation Society. The Glasgow Argus reported that the evening lecture attracted a substantial number of the society’s members and friends. Other platform guests included James N. Buffurn, city officials, and the co-secretaries of the Emancipation Society, John Murray and William Smeal. Glasgow Examiner, 17 January 1846; John Smith, Our Scottish Clergy: Fifty-two Sketches, Biographical, Theological, and Critical, Including Clergymen of All Denominations, 3 vols. (Edinburgh, Scot., 1848–51), 1:227–29; Merrill and Ruchames, Garrison Letters, 3:31n. You shall here from me again soon. Please make my
regards to Mrs. Webb—and the children.8Hannah Waring Webb and her children, Alfred (1834–1908), Richard (1835–82), Deborah (1837–1921), and Anne (1839–1921).

As ever,


ALS: Anti-Slavery Collection, MB. PLSr: Foner, Life and Writings, 5:42–43.


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