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A Quaker forgery? John Locke’s letter to a Quaker woman preacher, by Naomi Pullin

My magical source is a letter sent from John Locke to a Quaker preacher called Rebecca Collier, in which he outlines some of his thoughts and views on female preaching after he had heard her and her companion, Rachel Brecken, preach at a Quaker meeting in London. There was a short marginal note to say that Locke had altered his views on female preaching on the basis of this encounter with Collier and that he had subsequently revised his Notes and Queries on this subject. There was also a rather baffling story that King William III had been in attendance at the same meeting, dressed incognito.

Wed 22 Jun 2022, 14:32

Thomas Paine: Enemy of Free Speech?, by Charles Walton

The story of free speech during the French Revolution, a recurrent theme in French Revolutionary studies, is often told like this: During the Ancien Régime, there was no such freedom. Publications were subject to censorship, and any expression deemed to have violated ‘religion, morality, the monarchy and the honour of individuals’ was subject to punishment. Authors and printers could find themselves imprisoned in the Bastille, and those accused of uttering seditious speech could have their tongues torn out by the public executioner.

Wed 22 Jun 2022, 09:05 | Tags: Early Modern

‘Tied up from self-murder’: Writing about suicide in the wake of the South Sea Bubble, by Imogen Knox

When the South Sea Bubble burst in September 1720, investors were devastated. By 1721, deaths attributed to suicide had risen by 40 per cent in London.[1] In response to this apparent epidemic, an anonymous writer published Two letters, in Edinburgh, in 1721, which discussed the public response to the South Sea Bubble collapse, and considered the rise in suicide in light of Roman examples of self-inflicted death. This blog post focuses particularly on the second letter, discussing suicide, which offers ‘a comparison between the suicide of the ancient Romans and that so frequent of late among the English’.[2]

Thu 12 May 2022, 12:04

White ‘Slaves’: Christopher Codrington and His Disputes with Colonial Elites

Recently there has been considerable debate about the legacy of Christopher Codrington, and his bequests to Oxford University’s All Souls College. As a dominant plantation-owner in the British Caribbean, Codrington’s wealth was built on the labour and lives of enslaved people, and the plantation profits he left for All Souls continue to cause public controversy. Under the pressure of activists and campaigners, All Souls has decided to change the name of Codrington Library, but not to move Codrington’s statue which stands in the centre of the library [Oxford University’s All Souls College drops Christopher Codrington’s name from its library—but refuses to remove slave owner’s statue | Anny Shaw | The Art Newspaper]. Whilst attention has very rightly focused on his slave-holding, we should also not forget his involvement in bitter internecine conflict with local elites and the related language of slavery among the white community.

Thu 16 Dec 2021, 16:13 | Tags: Britain

Structuring the Universe: The Making and Reception of Thomas Wright’s Stellar Astronomy

In 1750, the English astronomer Thomas Wright published his treatise An Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe. In it, he explained the visual phenomenon of the Milky Way in terms of an ordered structure of stars surrounding a centre of various possible natures. Wright’s originality lay in being the first to give the Milky Way an ordered structure, and while his supposed structure has since been disproved, his hypothesis influenced later astronomical inquiries into the shape and nature of the Milky Way. Such is the story of how Wright fits into the development of modern astronomical conceptions of the universe. But there is another story about how theology played an essential role in Wright’s astronomical conceptions of the Milky Way and of the universe.

Fri 03 Dec 2021, 10:59

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