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Henry Smeathman, the FlycatcherNatural History, Slavery, and Empire in the Late Eighteenth Century$
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Deirdre Coleman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940537

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786940537.001.0001

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(p.58) Chapter Two Prospects
Henry Smeathman, the Flycatcher

Deirdre Coleman

Liverpool University Press

Chapter 2 begins with the intellectual stimulus of Smeathman’s voyage through tropical waters to West Africa. His powers of close observation are exercised on creatures such as the polyp, an exemplary case of the plant-animal continuum which was so perplexing to naturalists. Upon arriving at the Isles de Los, Smeathman is affronted by the sights and sounds of slavery. Pity for the enslaved, especially the women nursing babies, is accompanied by admiration of the scale and efficiency of the slave trade’s organization. In comparison his fieldwork equipment looks puny to the slave traders who consider their ‘collections’ to be far more significant, and certainly more profitable.

Keywords:   Slave factories, Bunce Island, Isles de Los, Miles Barber, Grant family, Aird family

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