Charles Darwin quote: “I shall never again visit a slave-country”


Black and white photograph of Charles Darwin as an elderly man, showing him in three-quarter profile. He has a long, full white beard and is wearing a dark Victorian-era suit with a high collared shirt. Charles appears contemplative, gazing into the distance. The background is plain and dark, putting the focus on his facial features and expression.
Charles Darwin, circa 1874

“I thank God, I shall never again visit a slave-country. To this day, if I hear a distant scream, it recalls with painful vividness my feelings, when passing a house near Pernambuco, I heard the most pitiable moans, and could not but suspect that some poor slave was being tortured, yet knew that I was as powerless as a child even to remonstrate. I suspected that these moans were from a tortured slave, for I was told that this was the case in another instance. Near Rio de Janeiro I lived opposite to an old lady, who kept screws to crush the fingers of her female slaves. I have staid in a house where a young household mulatto, daily and hourly, was reviled, beaten, and persecuted enough to break the spirit of the lowest animal. I have seen a little boy, six or seven years old, struck thrice with a horse-whip (before I could interfere) on his naked head, for having handed me a glass of water not quite clean; I saw his father tremble at a mere glance from his master’s eye. … And these deeds are done and palliated by men, who profess to love their neighbours as themselves, who believe in God, and pray that his Will be done on earth! It makes one’s blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty: but it is a consolation to reflect, that we at least have made a greater sacrifice, than ever made by any nation, to expiate our sin.”

– Charles Darwin

“Charles Darwin quote: “I shall never again visit a slave-country”” sources:

Photograph taken circa 1874 by Leonard Darwin – Wikimedia Commons / The Voyage of the Beagle, chapter XXI: “Mauritius To England” (second edition, 1845) – Wikiquote


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