Elizabeth Herick first redraft

April 13, 2007

Ok. This is the very slightly adapted first version…

Elizabeth Heyrick

I don’t want fame
impossible to say and not sound false
but I never did and just as well,
I don’t expect
you’ll know too much about me now.
Doesn’t matter-
never wanted fame
fame was never what we
ever cared about. We wanted-
justice.

In the eyes of God all men are equal.

Ha – all men, not
all wo-men
and not jews
and not blacks.
We knew a bit about oppression,
we knew a bit about
second. So, no –
fame? it never really
ever had a chance. We wanted-
freedom.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Must slow down. My name,
is Elizabeth-
Elizabeth Heyrick, wife of John,
John who never did a great deal
worthy of distinction – still,
not a bad man, Mr Heyrick-
John – dead now. Died 8 years on,
into our marriage, left us childless,
but perhaps for the best now
Perhaps none of this
would’ve happened,
if John had hung around.

Dear John,
It’s Elizabeth, your little Dove,
John, I’m dead now,
but thought I’d write and tell you
what’s been going on.

My name,
is Elizabeth-
Elizabeth Heyrick, wife of John,
Born in Leicester, 1769.
You won’t know me
Don’t be embarrassed,
we’ve never met-
you might know William though –
William Wilberforce?
-yes.

William Wilberforce.
Born the same year as me,
Politician, philanthropist
and abolitionist.
Leader of the
parliamentary campaign
against the trade in slaves.
Didn’t much like me.

William, he wanted to take things-
slowly. Just the trade in slaves.
For now. But he didn’t get
the urgency. He’d never been
forced to sit in church
with his head down.
Forced to marry a man
twice, thrice, four times old.
He never knew,
what it was like
not to have the vote.

William. When I wrote my
seminal, Immediate
not Gradual Abolition

(you remember the pamphlet-back in 1824)
Do you remember what you did?
William, head of the official,
Society Against Slavery,
you told your men
not to come and speak
at any of our seperate
womens meetings

William, do you remember?
You tried to block the
distribution
of my pamphlet.
You said it was
unseemly,
woman with teeth.

Dear John,
guess what we did?
WE begged and we pleaded
we used all our female ways
all our gentle wiles.
They didn’t work.
So in the end
we took the simple route-
we pointed to the money.

My society, The Birmingham
Women’s Society,
had lots of money.
Daddy was rich
and in the 18th century
you took all the breaks that came your way
if you were born a MISS.

The Birmingham Women’s Society
leader of the 76
different women cells
against slavery
was the 5th largest donor
of William’s Party.

When we threatened
to withdraw our money,
Surprise, surprise,
William took us
much more seriously.

In 1833,
the bill appeared in Parliament
led by William,
forced by me

John,
I didn’t live to see the end of Slavery
the bill passed in 1833.
I died in 31
Just too early.

Still-
I never wanted fame,
I wanted Justice
I wanted Freedom
I wanted liberation.
It’s not the end
but we’ve made a start
haven’t we.

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