PALEY, Reverend William (1743-1805)

William Paley was born in Peterborough in July 1743, the eldest child of William Paley and Elizabeth Clapham.  He died 25 May 1805 in Bishop Wearmouth.  His father was a minor canon at Peterborough and later headmaster at the grammar school in Giggleswick, West Yorkshire.  Educated at his father’s school and Christ’s College, Cambridge, Paley graduated as senior wrangler in 1763 and was elected a fellow in 1766. Ordained in 1767, Paley enjoyed the patronage of the Bishop of Carlisle, receiving a number of rectories in Cumberland and Westmoreland and was eventually appointed Archdeacon of Carlisle in 1782.  In 1794 … Continue reading PALEY, Reverend William (1743-1805)

Nothing Left to Invent: Victorian visions of the future

In 1898 one correspondent to Cassell’s Saturday Journal felt able to write “We seem to be so up‑to‑date nowadays that I don’t see that there is really much else to be invented.” And who could have argued with them? A surfeit of wonders, `latest improvements’, and `startling developments’ had brought a nation to expect a new advance on an almost daily basis. “…the times in which we live may well be called the `age of invention’”, reported one magazine. “Never before, it would seem, have men so ardently studied the secrets of nature, and turned the knowledge thus acquired to … Continue reading Nothing Left to Invent: Victorian visions of the future

Living in the past: advice to a time traveller

When you become a time traveller it is important to remember that living in the past is not the same as reading about it. For one thing, you have to live every second of every day. How easy it is in a novel or a history to skip a whole year simply by starting a fresh paragraph or turning the page. Even when you read every word in the book you are merely tiptoeing across the Heraclitan flood on selected stepping stones But life in the past is living every heart beat in every minute, waiting patiently for the next … Continue reading Living in the past: advice to a time traveller

Six-Penny Science

If Queen Victoria had had a television this is what she would have watched. The new style of mass-circulation family magazines that are characteristic of the late-Victorian period have a striking resemblance to evening TV schedules. The technology may have been different but they have a number of features in common: a strong visual element and a family-centred audience; a regular diet of fiction and features; series, serials and one-off pieces; comedy, tragedy, romance and adventure; social comment, travelogue, science and natural history; celebrities and competitions. At times the parallels are quite striking. The Clarion polled its readers to find … Continue reading Six-Penny Science

Back to nature, experts and empire

I have long been intrigued by the idea of “going back to nature”. Why “nature”? Why “go back”? It’s not that I don’t see the appeal of the simple life, but for a cultural historian the ideas of “nature” and “return” are so rich with significance. I was therefore really pleased to see a recent post by Lukas Rieppel  taking a more historical perspective. Rieppel starts by introducing the current fad for the paleo-diet but then shifts to focus on Joseph Knowles as a way to place the diet in a long tradition of an aversion to modernity. In 1913 Knowles … Continue reading Back to nature, experts and empire