Imatges de pÓgina

tants had grown tired of staring at Paine and of pelting him with abuse, he betook himself to New York. On his way thither, he met with an adventure which shows the kind of martyrdom suffered by this political and religious heretic. He had stopped at Bordentown, in New Jersey, to look at a small place he owned there, and to visit an old friend and correspondent, Colonel Kirkbride. When he departed, the Colonel drove him over to Trenton to take the stage-coach. But in Trenton the Federal and Religious party had the upperhand, and when Paine applied at the booking-office for a seat to New York the agent refused to sell him one. Moreover, a crowd collected about his lodgings, who groaned dismally when he drove away with his friend, while a band of musicians, provided for the occasion, played the Rogue's March.

Among the editorial celebrities of 1803, James Cheetham, in New York, was almost as famous as Duane of the "Aurora." Cheetham, like many of his contemporaries, Gray, Carpenter, Callender, and Duane himself, was a British subject. He was a hatter in his native land; but a turn for politics ruined his business and made expatriation convenient. In the United States, he had become the editor of the "American Citizen," and was at that time busily engaged in attacking the Federalists and Burr's "Little Band," for their supposed attempt to elect Mr. Burr in the place of Mr. Jefferson. To Cheetham, accordingly, Paine wrote, requesting him to engage lodgings at Lovett's, afterwards the City Hotel. He sent for Cheetham, on the evening of his arrival. The journalist obeyed the summons immediately. This was the first interview between Paine and the man who was to hang, draw, and quarter his memory in a biography. This libellous performance was written shortly after Paine's death. It was intended as a peace-offering to the English government. The ex-hatter had made up his mind to return home, and he wished to prove the sincerity of his conversion from radicalism by trampling on the remains

of its high-priest. So long as Cheetham remained in good standing with the Democrats, Paine and he were fast friends; but when he became heretical and schismatic on the Embargo question, some three or four years later, and was formally read out of the party, Paine laid the rod across his back with all his remaining strength. He had vigor enough left, it seems, to make the "Citizen" smart, for Cheetham cuts and stabs with a spite which shows that the work was as agreeable to his feelings as useful to his plans. His reminiscences must be read multis cum granis.

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In New York Paine enjoyed the same kind of second-rate ovation as in Washington. A great number of persons called upon him, but mostly of the laboring class of emigrants, who had heard of the "Rights of Man," and, feeling disposed to claim as many rights as possible in their new country, looked with reverence upon the inventor of the system. The Democratic leaders, with one or two exceptions, avoided Paine. Respectabilities shunned him as a contamination. Grant Thorburn was suspended from church-membership for shaking hands with him. To the boys he was an object of curious attention; his nose was the burden of their songs.

Cheetham carried round a subscriptionlist for a public dinner. Sixty or seventy of Paine's admirers attended. It went off brilliantly, and was duly reported in the "American Citizen." Then the effervescence of New York curiosity subsided; Paine became an old story. He left Lovett's Hotel for humble lodgings in the house of a free-thinking farrier. Thenceforward the tale of his life is soon told. He went rarely to his farm at New Rochelle; he disliked the country and the trouble of keeping house; and a bullet which whizzed through his window one Christmas Eve, narrowly missing his head, did not add agreeable associations to the place. In the city he moved his quarters from one low boarding-house to another, and generally managed to quarrel with the blacksmiths, bakers, and butchers, his landlords. Unable to en

joy society suited to his abilities and large experience of life, Paine called in low company to help him bear the burden of existence. To the men who surrounded him, his opinions on all subjects were conclusive, and his shrewd sayings revelations. Among these respectful listeners, he had to fear neither incredulity nor disputation. Like his friend Elihu Palmer, and the celebrated Dr. Priestley, Paine would not tolerate contradiction. To differ with him was, in his eyes, simply to be deficient in understanding. He was like the French lady who naïvely told Dr. Franklin, "Je ne trouve que moi qui aie toujours raison." Professing to adore Reason, he was angry, if anybody reasoned with him. But herein he was no exception to the general rule,-that we find no persons so intolerant and illiberal as men professing liberal principles.

His occupation and amusement was to write for the papers articles of a somewhat caustic and personal nature. Whatever subject occupied the public mind interested Paine and provoked his remarks. He was bitter in his attacks upon the Federalists and Burrites for attempt ing to jockey Jefferson out of the Presidency. Later, when Burr was acquitted of treason, Paine found fault with ChiefJustice Marshall for his rulings during the trial, and gave him notice, that he (Marshall) was "a suspected character." He also requested Dr. Mitchell, then United States Senator for New York, to propose an amendment to the Constitution, authorizing the President to remove a judge, on the address of a majority of both houses of Congress, for reasonable cause, when sufficient grounds for impeachment might not exist. General Miranda's filibustering expedition against Caracas, a greater failure even than the Lopez raid on Cuba, furnished Paine with a theme. He wrote a sensible paper on the yellow fever, by request of Jefferson, and one or two on his iron bridge. He was ardent in the defence of Mr. Jefferson's pet scheme of a gunboat navy, and ridiculed the idea of fortifying New York. "The cheapest

way," he said, "to fortify New York will be to banish the scoundrels that infest it." The inhabitants of that city would do well, if they could find an engineer to fortify their island in this way.

When the Pennsylvanians called a Convention in 1805 to amend the Constitution of the State, Paine addressed them at some length, giving them a summary of his views on Government, Constitutions, and Charters. The Creoles of Louisiana sent to Congress a memorial of their "rights," in which they included the importation of African slaves. Paine was indignant at this perversion of his favorite specific for all political ailments, and took the Franco-Americans soundly to task :-"How dare you put up a petition to Heaven for such a power, without fearing to be struck from the earth by its justice?" It is manifest that Paine could not be a Democrat in good standing now. Mingled with these graver topics were side-blows at the emissary Cullen, alias Carpenter, an Englishman, who edited a Federal paper,- replies to Cheetham, reprimands to Cheetham, and threats to prosecute Cheetham for lying, "unless he makes a public apology,”—and three letters to Governor Morgan Lewis, who had incensed Paine by bringing an action for political libel against a Mr. Thomas Farmer, laying his damages at one hundred thousand dollars.

Among his last productions were two memorials to the House of Representatives. One can see in these papers that old age had weakened his mind, and that harsh treatment had soured his feelings towards the land of his adoption.

"Ma république à jamais grande et libre,

Cette terre d'amour et d'égalité," no longer seemed to him as lovely as when he composed these verses for a Fourthof-July dinner in Paris. He claimed compensation for his services in Colonel Laurens's mission to France in 1781. For his works he asked no reward. "All the civilized world knows," he writes, "I have been of great service to the United States, and have generously given away talents that would have made

me a fortune. The country has been benefited, and I make myself happy in the knowledge of it. It is, however, proper for me to add, that the mere independence of America, were it to have been followed by a system of government modelled after the corrupt system of the English government, would not have interested me with the unabated ardor it did." "It will be convenient to me to know what Congress will decide on, because it will determine me, whether, after so many years of generous services and that in the most perilous times, and after seventy years of age, I shall continue in this country, or offer my services to some other country. It will not be to England, unless there should be a revolution."

The memorial was referred to the Committee on Claims. When Paine heard of its fate, he addressed an indignant letter to the Speaker of the House. "I know not who the Committee on Claims are; but if they were men of younger standing than the times that tried men's souls,' and consequently too young to know what the condition of the country was at the time I published Common Sense,' --for I do not believe that independence would have been declared, had it not been for the effect of that work,-they are not capable of judging of the whole of the services of Thomas Paine. If my memorial was referred to the Committee on Claims for the purpose of losing it, it is unmanly policy. After so many years of service, my heart grows cold towards America."

His heart was soon to grow cold to all the world. In the spring of 1809, it became evident to Paine's attendants that his end was approaching. As death drew near, the memories of early youth arose vividly in his mind. He wished to be buried in the cemetery of the Quakers, in whose principles his father had educated him. He sent for a leading member of the sect to ask a resting-place for his body in their ground. The request was refused.

When the news got abroad that the Arch-Infidel was dying, foolish old wom

en and kindred clergymen, who "knew no way to bring home a wandering sheep but by worrying him to death," gathered together about his bed. Even his physician joined in the hue-and-cry. It was a scene of the Inquisition adapted to North America, -a Protestant auto da fé. The victim lay helpless before his persecutors; the agonies of disease supplied the place of rack and fagot. But nothing like a recantation could be wrung from him. And so his tormentors left him alone to die, and his freethinking smiths and cobblers rejoiced over his fidelity to

the cause.

He was buried on his farm at New Rochelle, according to his latest wishes. "Thomas Paine. Author of Common Sense,'" the epitaph he had fixed upon, was carved upon his tomb. A better one exists from an unknown hand, which tells, in a jesting way, the secret of the sorrows of his later life :

"Here lies Tom Paine, who wrote in liberty's defence,

And in his Age of Reason' lost his 'Common Sense.'"'

Ten years after, William Cobbett, who had left England in a fit of political disgust and had settled himself on Long Island to raise hogs and ruta-bagas, resolved to go home again. Cobbett had become an admirer, almost a disciple of Paine. The "Constitution-grinder" of '96 was now "a truly great man, a truly philosophical politician, a mind as far superior to Pitt and Burke as the light of a flambeau is superior to that of a rushlight." Above all, Paine had been Cobbett's teacher on financial questions. In 1803, Cobbett read his "Decline and Fall of the English System," and then "saw the whole matter in its true light; and neither pamphleteers nor speechmakers were after that able to raise a momentary puzzle in his mind." Perhaps Cobbett thought he might excite a sensation in England and rally about him the followers of Paine, or it may be that he wished to repair the gross injustice he had done him by some open act of adherence; at all events, he exhumed


Thomas Paine.

Paine's body and took the bones home with him in 1819, with the avowed intention of erecting a magnificent monument to his memory by subscription. In the same manner, about two thousand two hundred and fifty years ago, the bones of Theseus, the mythical hero of Democracy, were brought from Skyros to Athens by some Attic Koßßerns. The description of the arrival in England we quote from a Liverpool journal of the day:-"When his last trunk was opened at the Custom-House, Cobbett observed to the surrounding spectators, who had assembled in great numbers,- Here are the bones of the late Thomas Paine.' This declaration excited a visible sensation, and the crowd pressed forward to see the contents of the package. Cobbett remarked,Great, indeed, must that man have been whose very bones attract such attention!' The officer took up the coffin-plate inscribed, Thomas Paine, Aged 72. Died January 8, 1809,' and, having lifted up several of the bones, replaced the whole and passed them. They have since been forwarded from this town to London."

At a public dinner given to Cobbett in Liverpool, Paine was toasted as "the Noble of Nature, the Child of the Lower Orders"; but the monument was never raised, and no one knows where his bones found their last resting-place.

Cobbett himself gained nothing by this resurrectionist performance, except an additional couplet in the party-songs of the day :

Let Cobbett of borough-corruption com-

And go to the De'il with the bones of Tom

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It is now fifty years since Paine died; but the nil de mortuis is no rule in his The evil associations of his later days have pursued him beyond the grave. A small and threadbare sect of "liberals," as they call themselves,-men in whom

want of skill, industry, and thrift has pro-
duced the usual results,-have erected an
altar to Thomas Paine, and, on the an-
niversary of his birth, go through with a
pointless celebration, which passes unno-
ticed, unless in an out-of-the-way corner
of some newspaper. In this class of per-
sons, irreligion is a mere form of discon-
tent. They have no other reason to give
for the faith which is not in them. They
like to ascribe their want of success in
life to something out of joint in the
thoughts and customs of society, rather
than to their own shortcomings or inca-
pacity. In France, such persons would
be Socialists and Rouges; in this country,
where the better classes only have any
reason to rebel, they cannot well con-
spire against government, but attack re-
ligion instead, and pride themselves on
their exemption from prejudice.
is their manual. Its
Age of Reason
bold, clear, simple statements they can
understand; its shallowness they are too
ignorant to perceive; its coarseness is in
Thus the
unison with their manners.
author has become the Apostle of Free-
thinking tinkers and the Patron Saint of
unwashed Infidelity.


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To this generation at large, he is only an indistinct shadow,-a faint reminis cence of a red nose,-an ill-flavored name, redolent of brandy and of brimstone, his beverage in life and his well-earned punishment in eternity, which suggests to the serious mind dirt, drunkenness, and Mere worldlings hopeless damnation. call him "Tom Paine," in a tone which combines derision and contempt. A bust of him, by Jarvis, in the possession of the New York Historical Society, is kept under lock and key, because it was defaced and defiled by visitors, while a dozen other plaster worthies that decorate the institution remained intact. Nevertheless, we suspect that most of our readers, if they cannot date back to the first decade of the century, will find, when they sift their information, that they have only a speaking acquaintance with Thomas Paine, and can give no good reason for their dislike of him.

And it is not easy for the general reader to become intimate with him. He will find him, of course, in Biographical Dictionaries, Directories of the City of the Great Dead, which only tell you where men lived, and what they did to deserve a place in the volume; but as to a life of him, strictly speaking, there is none. Oldys and Cobbett tried to flay him alive in pamphlets; Sherwin and Clio Rickman were prejudiced friends and published only panegyrics. All are out of print and difficult to find. Cheetham's work is a political libel; and the attempt of Mr. Vail of the " Beacon" to canonize him in the "Infidel's Calendar," cannot be recommended to intelligent persons. We might expect to meet with him in those books of lives so common with us,-collections in which a certain number of deceased gentlemen are bound up together, so resembling each other in feature that one might suppose the narratives ground out by some obituary-machine and labelled afterward to suit purchasers. Even this "sign-post biography," as the "Quarterly" calls it, Paine has escaped. He was not a marketable commodity. There was no demand for him in polite circles. The implacable hand of outraged orthodoxy was against him. Hence his memory has lain in the gutter. Even his friend Joel Barlow left him out of the "Columbiad," to the great disgust of Clio Rickman, who thought his name should have appeared in the Fifth Book between Washington and Franklin. Surely Barlow might have found room for him in the following" Epic List of Heroes" :— "Wythe, Mason, Pendleton, with Henry joined,

Rush, Rodney, Langdon, friends of humankind,

Persuasive Dickinson, the farmer's boast, Recording Thompson, pride of all the host, Nash, Jay, the Livingstons, in council great, Rutledge and Laurens, held the rolls of fate." But no! Neither author nor authorling liked to have his name seen in company with Thomas Paine. And when a curious compiler has taken him up, he has held him at arm's length, and, after eye

ing him cautiously, has dropped him like some unclean and noxious animal.

Sixty years ago, Paine's friends used to say, that, "in spite of some indiscreet writings on the subject of religion," he deserved the respect and thanks of Americans for his services. We think that he deserves something more at the present day than this absolute neglect. There is stuff enough in him for one volume at least. His career was wonderful, even for the age of miraculous events he lived in. In America, he was a Revolutionary hero of the first rank, who carried letters in his pocket from George Washington, thanking him for his services. And he managed besides to write his radical name in large letters in the History of England and of France. As a mere literary workman, his productions deserve notice. In mechanics, he invented and put up the first iron bridge of large span in England; the boldness of the attempt still excites the admiration of engi


He may urge, too, another claim to our attention. In the legion of "most remarkable men" these United States have produced or imported, only three have achieved infamy: Arnold, Burr, and Paine. What are Paine's titles to belong to this trio of disreputables? Only these three: he wrote the "Age of Reason"; was a Democrat, perhaps an unusually dirty one; and drank more brandy than was good for him. The "Age of Reason" is a shallow deistical essay, in which the author's opinions are set forth, it is true, in a most offensive and irreverent style. As Dr. Hopkins wrote of Ethan Allen,

"One hand was clenched to batter noses, While t'other scrawled 'gainst Paul and Moses."

But who reads it now? On the other hand, no one who has studied Paine's career can deny his honesty and his disinterestedness; and every unprejudiced reader of his works must admit not merely his great ability in urging his opinions, but that he sincerely believed all he wrote. Let us, then, try to forget the

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