Tag Archives: Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Paine Burnings

Today in Britain, there are some practices which we view with a kind of gentle paternalism; they’re customs which we think beneath us, or too antiquated to be of use. One of them is the practice of burning people in effigy, something which is now only practiced by oddballs, people whose ideas of vengeance and often humour are remarkably primitive. Continue reading

A Betrayal of the Left

The Left in Britain used to be in favour of secularism and against the politicisation of religion. The lives of Thomas Paine, Bertrand Russell and many others attest to this proud history. They campaigned against and opposed the domination of any one religious group – and they did so even when it was dangerous, both to their careers and even their lives. (The burning down of Joseph Priestley’s laboratory was not an entirely isolated event; and the sentiments expressed were not those of a minority. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote in his “Religious Musings”, ‘priests idolatrous / By dark lies maddening the blind multitude / Drove with vain hate’.) Continue reading