bookmark_borderSocial Networking, Book Burning, and the rooster who lost his head

Daniel Isaac Eaton had been in trouble with the law before.   (That is, before the blasphemy case.)

Cockerel and hen from woodcut
A 19th century cockerel or Chanticleer based on an image from John George Wood’s “The illustrated natural history”

Once upon a time, in a little kingdom in far away Europe, there lived a cockerel by the name of Chanticleer, King Chanticleer. This rooster was a descendent of the Chanticleer in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale, and a distant uncle of the King Chanticleer which featured in 1911 song by Nat D. Ayer.

Only this Chanticleer was a gamecock which sprung from the imagination of John Thelwall in 1793. Continue reading “Social Networking, Book Burning, and the rooster who lost his head”

bookmark_borderDaniel Isaac Eaton, Thomas Paine’s publisher, accused of blasphemy

The prosecution mounted a brilliant case against Thomas Paine’s publisher. The first witness the attorney General called was Henry Ben Raven, who, as stated earlier, had purchased a copy of Thomas Paine’s book from Daniel Isaac Eaton’s shop. Continue reading “Daniel Isaac Eaton, Thomas Paine’s publisher, accused of blasphemy”

bookmark_borderThe Ghost of Thomas Paine haunts the Church of England

Portrait of Thomas Paine in front of booksWhen Richard Dawkins recently claimed that Christians were “not really Christian at all”, he wasn’t breaking new ground.

Over 200 years ago, Thomas Paine, that oft-quoted American patriot, wrote a pamphlet that said basically the same thing.

Continue reading “The Ghost of Thomas Paine haunts the Church of England”

bookmark_borderThen she stole the sailor’s heart

Pillory, whipping post and stocks Wallingford, Berkshire;  sketch
Pillory, whipping post and stocks; based on a drawing by Llewellynn Jewitt

Jeffery Hart Bent was not a very forgiving man.  Jeffery once passed a toll that he thought he shouldn’t have to pay. When they asked Jeffery for the fare, he rammed through the gate, breaking it, and continued on his way, leaving the broken booth behind him.

When called to Australia’s Supreme Court, Jeffery didn’t seem to see the condemned man as having many more rights than the broken tollbooth.  The court was a man short when a squeaky clean English solicitor named Garling was held up at sea on his way to New South Wales, captured by an American ship. Only, they weren’t a short, as there were convicts who had served their time and were eligible to serve in the court. Jeffery Hart Bent, however, would not consider it, and he held in contempt any of his advisors who would.

Judge Bent had heard many stories from his little brother Ellis, no doubt, but nothing could prepare him for the sea voyage he was about to make. Continue reading “Then she stole the sailor’s heart”

bookmark_borderA historical look at climate change

“It keeps getting colder and colder.” Some people tell me.  Yet others complain that we just aren’t as prepared for a cold spell as we used to be.bicycle covered in snow

The Spectator carries an article that says “Snow, what snow?” which claims that “Heathrow ruined thousands of peoples’ plans” by playing it safe.  Yet the Expresso states that the “Cold wave has already cause 470 deaths” in Europe.

Is this climate change?  Or are we just forgetting our history?

Continue reading “A historical look at climate change”

bookmark_borderFort Allison: Black History and the War of 1812 in Illinois

1812 stars and stripes flagThe early settlement of Crawford County, Illinois is still relatively clouded in mystery.

The movies used to simplify the westward expansion as a contest between “Indians” and “The White Man.” But when I presented this stereotype a couple of decades ago, on my visit to the a little town near Russelville in Illinois, I was corrected.
Continue reading “Fort Allison: Black History and the War of 1812 in Illinois”

bookmark_borderThe fate of Captain Rowland and his privateer brig Holkar

Stranded on her tropical island, it’s likely that Susannah Lalliment didn’t know or care what happened to her would be rescuers turned deserters, Captain Rowland and his Holkar privateer.

To the British navy and merchant marine, however, the brig Holkar was a menace.

Slowed only by the captured ships and other prizes they had to sell, Captain Rowland and his crew turned back home to turn in his prizes. The Emu was taken to New York, and other prizes to other ports.

Continue reading “The fate of Captain Rowland and his privateer brig Holkar”

bookmark_borderSusannah Lalliment meets the American pirates

Despite her conviction, Susannah Lalliment was lucky. The far off colonies of the Empire had too few loyal subjects, and the parliament had an idea of how to get more people there. Susannah’s death sentence was commuted to banishment, life on the other side of the world. Continue reading “Susannah Lalliment meets the American pirates”