I'm listening to Mark Steele's Thomas Paine
Here's Thomas Burke's criticism of Paine's Common Sense
, the attack on the British running of the American colonies:
"great Common Sense surely did come
from out the crack in grizzly Pluto's Bum"
Paine also said that monarchy is "as absurd as an hereditary mathematician", which is a glorious image. Each of Lords in the house would then represent a branch of mathematics. It does make about as much sense as Lord Mandelson of Hartlepool. Why not the Duke of Calculus or Baroness Perry of Conic Sections?
Anyway, Paine came in for a lot of stick for his a-religion, "My own mind is my own church. All national institutions of churches ... appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit", although he was a deist (and a Quaker).
It was encouraging to hear another American grandee quoting Paine in his inaugural address. I think I should probably read The Age of Reason.