While now known through Jane Austen aficionados as one of Austen’s favorite novelists, for a while the world largely forgot Frances “Fanny” Burney. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Fanny’s social satires and comedy of manners were the books to read. Young Jane Austen subscribed to a circulating library to read Fanny’s latest novel. It influenced her enough she borrowed from said works and incorporated them in her own canon. The wealthy man’s pursuit of a social inferior, the buffoonish suitor, vulgar relatives, the name Willoughby, the phrase “Pride and Prejudice” itself—all originated with Fanny Burney. Continue reading
While the Russian Revolution technically began in March 1917, it comprised two rebellions. The seeds of the revolt had been taking root for decades and to understand how and why it happened, one must take a quick glimpse at Russian history. Continue reading
How do myths and legends begin? Is there a kernel of truth at the heart of these stories? Or over time do we fall in love with ideas and romances, and that as a result, we create other worlds to distract ourselves? Continue reading
Audiences best know Rosa Parks for her refusal to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, which impacted the Civil Rights Movement and led to a city-wide boycott of the transit system, but her story doesn’t begin or end there. Continue reading
NOV/ DEC 2017: BY VERONICA LEIGH
A day is 24 hours long, but we often feel that isn’t enough. We try to manage our minutes wisely, to accomplish as much as possible every day. I fall short. More than once I have wished to have more time or I could somehow do something different, to change the course of events. Continue reading
HALLOWEEN 2017: VERONICA LEIGH
Emily was in an uproar. Known for her volatile temper, she was furious when her older sister Charlotte discovered her private poetry and dared to read it. Her younger sister Anne offered some of her own poetry to read, to keep the peace, which led to a wild suggestion. They could try to publish their work together in a volume, to see if they could turn a profit. They needed money; they needed to find some way to provide for themselves. Continue reading
SEPT / OCT 2017: BY VERONICA LEIGH
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14.
Queen Esther was born as Hadassah, in 5th century B.C.E., to a Hebrew family. Her family descended from the Tribe of Benjamin, her ancestors were among the Jewish people taken in the remnant exiled to Babylon. After seventy years of exile, some of the Jews returned to Israel, while Hadassah’s branch and many others remained in what became Persia. No one knows what became of Hadassah’s parents, but her cousin Mordecai took her under his wing and raised her. While she and Mordecai lived in a pagan land and associated with unbelievers, we can probably assume that Hadassah had a typical, observant upbringing. Neither she nor Mordecai could have known what lay ahead of her… or their people. Continue reading
JULY / AUG 2017: BY VERONICA LEIGH
Since America’s beginning (before, really), strong, brave, and intelligent men and women forged their way westward to make new lives for themselves and their families. In the Little House series, Laura Ingalls Wilder chronicled her family’s journey from their home in Wisconsin through various states and territories to the Dakota Territory where they settled permanently. While some scholars now debate the authorship and consider some of the material to be fictional, the basic story is the same. The Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Ingalls family, and many of those she crossed paths with, were pioneers. Continue reading
MAY/JUNE 2017: BY VERONICA LEIGH
Some stories you read or hear as a child stay with you for the rest of your life. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes is one of them. I read it for the first time in Mrs. Jones’ second grade class. She assigned us the book. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, we had an hour set aside for reading and for a week or so, I spent my time learning the story of Sadak—how she lived her short life and how she died. Though she lived in the 1940’s and 1950’s in Japan, it was easy to fall in love with this bright and beautiful girl. Continue reading
MARCH / APRIL 2017: BY VERONICA LEIGH
To call William Wilberforce a man of faith might be a bit of an understatement. Wilberforce was a force not to be reckoned with. Born in 1759, he was sent to live with his uncle and aunt after the death of his father, to receive a proper education and have a more privileged upbringing. In the late 18th century, the majority of English population belonged to the Church of England. However, more evangelical movements had begun to crop up, such as the Methodists and Quakers; even within the Anglican Church certain members became more evangelical. Influenced by George Whitefield, Wilberforce was initially drawn to the movement. His mortified family deterred him from becoming more devout in his faith. By the time he was at Cambridge, like many young men, he embraced a more worldly lifestyle. He adopted the customary gambling and drinking shenanigans that went hand in hand with life as a student. Wilberforce purportedly had an excellent singing voice and loved to entertain others. Even so, he remained a good and conscientious individual.
Following the deaths of his grandfather and uncle, Wilberforce became financially independent and though he could have lived the life of a gentleman, he was a thinker and at the age of twenty-one he became a member of parliament. As a wit, he became a great orator. His quick mind and sharp tongue cut his opponents down to size. His friend William Pitt the Younger (who would later become the Prime Minister of England) also entered the political arena and despite their inexperience, they were determined to make their mark on the world.
Wilberforce had one plan, God had another. The Lord began to draw Wilberforce back into the fold. It began with daily prayers, Scripture reading, church attendance and led to more dramatic statements of faith such as forsaking alcohol, dancing, and gambling. His spiritual awakening made him question his purpose; he wondered if he should leave politics and forsake public life. Perhaps the Lord could use him in a different manner. His friend William Pitt and John Newton (the same John Newton who had originally been involved in the slave trade, came to Christ and became a minister, and wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace”) convinced him that he was exactly where he needed to be and that God was using him and would continue to.
Wilberforce’s calling came when he met Thomas Clarkson. A radical abolitionist, Thomas showed Wilberforce the evidence of the evils of the slave trade and slavery. Wilberforce’s new Christian faith challenged him, leading him to believe that he had to oppose slavery and use his position as a politician to end it. He decided to target the slave trade itself, knowing that once that was abolished, slavery would eventually cease. Wilberforce and an eclectic group of evangelicals gathered firsthand accounts, evidence, they lobbied, made speeches, and enlisted the help of former slaves for a campaign against slavery. Thousands of signatures poured in, but that was not enough. The bill he put forth was defeated and thus was the beginning of Wilberforce’s unwavering commitment to the cause.
Every year that followed, Wilberforce would bring forth a bill to end the slave trade and every year he faced failure. During his crusade, Wilberforce battled with his own demons. He had a number of health problems, many gastrointestinal issues, which he treated with opium. Addiction was not understood in those days. It destroyed his eyesight and caused him debilitating depression. He later kicked the habit, likely from God’s health.
The French Revolution and its unrest affected politics overseas and there was a lull Wilberforce’s campaigning. It was during that time he was introduced to Barbara Spooner and their courtship lasted all of eight days. Always passionate, for Wilberforce that was enough, therefore he and Barbara married. It wasn’t long before they had children and he became a very devoted father.
Following the loss of his friend William Pitt the Younger, Wilberforce and his ragtag group of evangelicals resumed the campaign against slavery. In collaboration with many, a bill was put forth which would ban British subjects from aiding or participating in the slave trade to the French colonies. It passed with very little opposition. The slave trade petered out overnight.
Wilberforce never ceased fighting against slavery, and continued to support various causes, including children’s rights, reform for workers and animal rights. Everything he did, his actions and his crusades, stemmed from his faith in Christ. He resigned from politics in the 1820s and in 1830 lost much of his fortune via a business venture by his son. His last years were spent coping with ill health and staying with various friends on long visits. Wilberforce died in 1833, three days after hearing that the Bill for the Abolition passed.
One has to wonder would the world would have been like had Wilberforce not heard the call of God. But then again, everything happens for a reason.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Veronica Leigh has been published in several anthologies and her work has appeared on GoWorldTravel.com and the Artist Unleashed, and she has published a couple of fictional stories. She makes her home in Indiana with her family and her furbabies. To learn more about her, visit her blog.