Newton, the ex-slave trader, and Wilberforce, the little liberator. Paperback, 107pp. Published by Day One Publications, Ryelands Road, Leominster, HR6 8NZ, UK Price £5.00, ISBN 1-903087-99-2
For those of us living more than 200 years after most of the events dealt with in this book, it is difficult to imagine why the abolition of the slave trade should take so long. Yet the writer seeks to convey, in a relatively slim volume, the struggle of Newton and Wilberforce, each in his own sphere, to accomplish this noble end. Clearly, vested interests and powerful economic lobbies, together with the revolution in France, combined to bring delay and it says much for the determination of these two men that they remained undaunted in their task in spite of the toll that the years of campaigning took upon their lives.
The friendship and mutual respect that developed between these men who inhabited such different social realms is clear, as is the prayerful and practical support they offered each other. Pollock also makes the link between Wilberforce’s campaign for the abolition of slavery and his desire for ‘the reformation of manners’, that is, ‘to change the moral climate of the age’. For Wilberforce the two were inextricably linked, for ‘the “high civilization” of eighteenth-century England was built not only on the slave trade but on mass poverty, child labour, and political corruption in high places’.
This book, a testimony to the grace and ‘providence’ of God, may well whet the appetite of the reader to consider more of the lives of these great reformers and men of God.