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THOM AS PAINE,
INTERSPERSED WITH REMARKS AND REFLECTIONS,
" A Life that's one continu'd scene
BIOGRAPHICAL memoirs of persons, famous for the great good or the great mischief they have done, are so sure to meet with a favourable reception in print, that it has long been subject of astonishment, that none of the disciples of Paine should ever have thought of obliging the world with an account of his life. His being of mean birth could form no reasonable objection: when the life of his hero is spotless, the biographer feels a pride as well as a pleasure in tracing him froin the penurious shed to the pinnacle of renown. Besides, those from whom we might have expected the history of Old Common Sense, are professed admirers of all that is of low and even base extraction. They are continually boasting of the superior virtues of their “ democratic floor,” as they call it; it, therefore, seems wonderful, that they should have neglected giving an instance of this superiority in the life of their virtuous leader.
This unaccountable negligence of Paine's friends has, in some measure, been compensated by the diligence of the friends of order and religion. His
life was published in London, in 1793 ; but, like most other works calculated to stem the torrent of popular prejudice, it has never found admittance into the American press. I am afraid it will be a Jasting reproach on those, into whose hands this press has fallen, that while thousands upon thousands of that blasphemous work, “the Age of • Reason," were struck off, the instant it arrived in the country, not a single copy of the life and crimes of the blasphemer, so fit to counteract his diabolical efforts, was printed in the whole Union.
This little pamphlet has, at last, fallen into my hands, and were I to delay communicating it to the
ublic, I should be unworthy of that liberty of the press, which, in spite of lying pamphlets and threatening letters, I am determined to enjoy, while I have types and paper at my command.
The reader must observe that this account of Paine's Life, is an abstract of his life, a larger work, written by Francis Oldys, A. M. of the University of Pennsylvania, and published by Mr. Stockdale of London. The following extract is taken from the London Review of the work." A more co
gent reason cannot be given for this publication, " than that which is assigned by the writer of Mr. “ Paine's Life, in the following short exordium.“ It has been established by the reiterated suffrage of " mankind, that the lives of those persons, who have “ either performed useful actions, or neglected essential “ duties, ought to be recounted, as much for an exam
ple to the present age, as for the instruction of fu“ ture times. THOMAS PAIN* (proceed the
*“In a note we are informed by Mr. Oldys, that this is the « real name; and that his fictitious name is Paine with a final for that his father's name was Pain ;
his own e; - Pain when he married, when he corresponded with the exs cise, and when he first appeared in America. But finding
« Reviewers) is placed precisely in this predicaa ment.
His actions have stamped him a public es character, and from his public conduct much use“ ful information and instruction may be derived. " In his transactions as a private individual, we “ find the records of villainy in various shapes, « not imposing upon mankind under any impene“ trable mask, or close-wrought veil, but, almost “ from the beginning, openly and avowedly prac“ tised in the broad face of day, The facts on which “ he stands convicted by his Biographer are not
lightly stated, but are supported by authentic do. cuments and substantiated by evidence."
I shall detain the reader here but a moment, to observe, that these Reviewers were, and are, the partizans of Paine, rather than otherwise; and that, in many parts of their review, they have attempted to palliate his crimes.
The following abstract of the Life of Paine, by Mr. Oldys of Philadelphia, will perhaps bu acceptable to the world; as' every fact in it is,
by the confession of Paine himself, of his friends, . and of his enemies, undeniably authentic.'*
· Thomas Paine was born at Thetford, in the county of Norfolk (in England), on the 29th of January, 1736-7. His father was Joseph Pain, a staymaker by trade, and of the sect of the Quakers. His mother, Frances Cocke, daughter
some inconvenience in his real name, or seeing some advan" tage in a fi&titious one, he thus changed the name of his
family, and he thus exercised a freedom which the great en“ joy for honourable ends."
* That part of this essay which the reader finds thus marked with inverted commas, is taken from the printed copy. The rest, whether good or bad, whether republican or antirepublican, I am ready to take upon myself.