The idealist William Wilberforce maneuvers his way through Parliament, endeavoring to end the British transatlantic slave trade.

John Newton: Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly. I'm a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.
Lord Charles Fox: When people speak of great men, they think of men like Napoleon - men of violence. Rarely do they think of peaceful men. But contrast the reception they will receive when they return home from their battles. Napoleon will arrive in pomp and in power, a man who's achieved the very summit of earthly ambition. And yet his dreams will be haunted by the oppressions of war. William Wilberforce, however, will return to his family, lay his head on his pillow and remember: the slave trade is no more.
[Wilberforce receives a standing ovation from the entire House and the Gallery]
John Newton: God sometimes does His work with gentle drizzle, not storms. Drip. Drip. Drip.
John Newton: I wish I could remember all their names. My 20,000 ghosts, they all had names, beautiful African names. We'd call them with just grunts, noises. We were apes, they were human.
[tears up]
Barbara Wilberforce: It seems to me, that if there is a bad taste in your mouth, you spit it out. You don't constantly swallow it back.
Pitt the Younger: Why is it you only feel the thorns in your feet when you stop running?
William Wilberforce: Is that some sort of heavy-handed metaphorical advice for me, Mr. Pitt?
William Wilberforce: It's God. I have 10,000 engagements of state today but I would prefer to spend the day out here getting a wet arse, studying dandelions and marveling at... bloody spider's webs.
Richard the Butler: You found God, sir?
William Wilberforce: I think He found me. You have any idea how inconvenient that is? How idiotic it will sound? I have a political career glittering ahead of me, and in my heart I want spider's webs.
Richard the Butler: [sitting down next to WW] "It is a sad fate for a man to die too well known to everybody else and still unknown to himself." Francis Bacon. I don't just dust your books, sir.
Oloudaqh Equiano: Your life is a thread. It breaks, or it doesn't break.
John Newton: Though I have lost my memory, two things I know. I am a great sinner and Christ is a great savior.
William Wilberforce: I want you to remember that smell... remember the Madagascar... remember, God made men equal.
William Wilberforce: You wake me up to give me medicine to help me sleep?
Richard the Butler: Great changes are easier than small ones. Sir Francis Bacon.
Thomas Clarkson: [at Equiano's grave] As you know, Equiano, I rarely drink.
Pitt the Younger: Trouble is, Doctor, he doesn't believe he has a body. Utterly careless of it.
Pitt the Younger: It's your wedding day - I agree with everything you say.
Pitt the Younger: Do you intend to use your beautiful voice to praise the Lord... or change the world?
Thomas Clarkson: [to the baby in his arms] "Strange treasures in this fair world appear, strange all, and new to me." That is a poem by Thomas Traherne and I have absolutely no idea what it's about. But, when I was small I was made to learn it by heart so I don't see why you shouldn't suffer too.
William Wilberforce: [calling] Clarkson! Clarkson!
Thomas Clarkson: Good God, he's got his voice back.
Marianne Thornton: The Romans believed this water would restore the dead to life.
Barbara Wilberforce: [looking at it, unimpressed] Most pump water I've investigated works in the opposite direction.
Pitt the Younger: As your Prime Minister, I urge you caution
William Wilberforce: And as my friend?
Pitt the Younger: To hell with caution.
Pitt the Younger: [on his deathbed] No more excuses, Wilber. Finish them off.
John Newton: [reciting his song] "I once was blind but now I see". Didn't I write that?
William Wilberforce: Yes, you did.
John Newton: Now at last it's true.
Lord Tarleton: I can hardly believe my ears!
Heckler: And we can hardly believe your mouth!
William Wilberforce: No one of our age has ever taken power.
Pitt the Younger: Which is why we're too young to realize certain things are impossible. Which is why we will do them anyway.
Thomas Clarkson: We don't want any fuss. We just need somebody who is... really, really boring.
Duke of Clarence: Revolution is like the pox. It spreads from person to person.
William Wilberforce: I bow to my honorable friend's superior knowledge and experience in all matters regarding the pox.
Lord Tarleton: [walks into what looks like an empty room] Where the hell is everyone?
Lord Charles Fox: Everybody's at the races in Epsom. They were given free tickets. I saved one for you.
[holds up ticket]
Lord Charles Fox: A free gift from William Wilburforce.
Marianne Thornton: What time did Barbara leave?
William Wilberforce: Late. I mean early.
Pitt the Younger: I don't care how important this is. I'll finish my shot.
Pitt the Younger: [aims with club]
Pitt the Younger: [exasperated] Oh, for God's sake, what is it?
William Wilberforce: I thought time might have changed you.
John Newton: It has. I'm older.
Barbara Wilberforce: Mr. Wilberforce, I understand that you have an interest in botany.
William Wilberforce: Botany, Miss Spooner? What makes you think I would have interest in something as tedious as botany?
[pause, then snorts. Both Barbara and Wilberforce choke with laughter]
William Wilberforce: [to the concerned people at the table] Sorry, it's a private joke.
William Wilberforce: Where are you going?
Lord Charles Fox: To look up the word integrity.
Henry Thornton: Come, we're late.
William Wilberforce: The water has been here a million years, how can we be late?
Pitt the Younger: Barbara. You have my deepest condolescences.
Barbara Wilberforce: [feigning seriousness] Thank you.
Pitt the Younger: But do me a favour. Make him eat some of his pets.
Barbara Wilberforce: [picking up rabbit] I rather like them.
Pitt the Younger: I like them, too - in brandy sauce.
William Wilberforce: [after Pitt beats him running] It's my ministerial duty to let you win.
Pitt the Younger: [to Lord Fox] You always look more at home when you're doing something devious.
Barbara Wilberforce: You're discussing politics with your eyes. You might as well do it with your mouths.
William Wilberforce: Remember that God made men equal.
John Newton: Besides, people like you too much to let you live a life of solitude.
William Wilberforce: Haven't you chosen solitude?
John Newton: You of all people should know I can never be alone.
Thomas Clarkson: Why did you wait until your butler had left before you got out of the box?
William Wilberforce: They already think I'm mad.
William Wilberforce: I had heard your sight was fading.
John Newton: Well, now it's faded altogether. I never do things by halves. God decided I'd seen enough.
William Wilberforce: An imperfect order is better than no order at all.
Thomas Clarkson: No! We must fight for a perfect order!
Thomas Clarkson: Beautiful house. Sweet, little... rabbit.
William Wilberforce: It's a hare actually.
Pitt the Younger: You act like you've never seen slavery before.
William Wilberforce: For me, it's like arsenic. Each new tiny dose doubles the effect.
William Wilberforce: Perhaps we should begin this journey with a first step.
William Wilberforce: I'm against flowers in church. What have you to say?
Barbara Wilberforce: I am *for* them.
William Wilberforce: [both pause]
William Wilberforce: [resignedly] As am I.
Barbara Wilberforce: Well I would have been bored by botany.
Thomas Clarkson: It promotes the war effort, patriotism, and... all that.
Pitt the Younger: Since when have you been interested in the war effort, patriotism, and... all that?
Pitt the Younger: Is that the main course?
William Wilberforce: No. It's the Duke of Clarence.
James Stephen: It's Latin. Loosely translated, it means... we cheat.
Duke of Clarence: Noblesse oblige.
Lord Tarleton: What the bloody hell does that mean?
Duke of Clarence: It means: my nobility obliges me to recognize the virtue of an exceptional commoner
William Wilberforce: This is why I really shouldn't talk about it.
Barbara Wilberforce: I think you should.
Barbara Wilberforce: There, we found something we don't agree on.
William Wilberforce: Also, Barbara and I have discovered that we're both impatient and prone to rash decisions. But she wants to tell you about it herself.
Pitt the Younger: As Prime Minister, idle gossip collects around you like scum in slack water.
Barbara Wilberforce: You still have passion! That matters more!
Pitt the Younger: We cracked crowns, didn't we?
William Wilberforce: We left the heads intact.
Pitt the Younger: Because we're so pathetically English.
John Newton: [through tears] I'm weeping. I couldn't weep till I wrote this.
Richard the Butler: When I was 15 I almost run away with the circus. They said I could have been an acrobat.
James Stephen: So, this time, gentlemen, we must not fail them.
William Wilberforce: [Fox walks in unexpectedly] Dear God.
Lord Charles Fox: Well, almost. I spent eighteen months being torn apart in the House by you Mr. Wilberforce. I thought I'd find out what it feels like on your side. Any of you saints drink?
Thomas Clarkson: Well, this one bloody does!
William Wilberforce: I never change.
Pitt the Younger: Well, hurrah for you.
Marianne Thornton: [at Barbara's wedding reception] Have you forgiven us, yet?
Barbara Wilberforce: Never.
Henry Thornton: [to Wilber] There's creeping ivy or something like that. You really should see it.
Marianne Thornton: [matter-of-factly] Barbara, you really must go and see it, too.
William Wilberforce: God has set before me two great objects.
Pitt the Younger: I find that the older I get, the more tender I become.
William Wilberforce: Oh, if the House of Lords could hear the idiotic way we carry on, they'd ban anyone under the age of 30 from holding high office again.
Richard the Butler: He's an optimist. Bloody incurable.
MP Abolition supporter: I sent a note of thanks to those who voted for us.
Thomas Clarkson: [sarcastically] Oh, how sweet of you.
James Stephen: Don't I get to wash or sleep?
William Wilberforce: Sleep?
James Stephen: You haven't changed at all, William!
William Wilberforce: It's only painful to talk about because we haven't changed anything.
Barbara Wilberforce: The people aren't so afraid, now the war in France is being won. And when they stop being afraid they rediscover their compassion.
Barbara Wilberforce: Because after night comes day.
William Wilberforce: No matter how loud you shout, you will not drown out the voice of the people!
Lord Tarleton: People?
William Wilberforce: You're dressing very simply these days.
John Newton: I'm a simple man.

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