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Liverpool) to write the work, for which he was to receive five hundred pounds, in the event of his executing it to the satisfaction of his employer. These facts have been admitted by the anonymous assassin, Chalmers himself, and they require no comment.
The second Life of Mr. Paine is the production of an English Emigrant, of the name of Cheetham. This was published at New York, in 1809. The writer, exclusive of his being a treacherous apostate, was an illiterate blockhead; his misrepresentations have not even the dress of decent language to recommend them, and the frequent contradictions with which the book abounds must entitle it to the contempt of every reader.
Such are the persons who have attempted to blacken the reputation of one of the most enlightened and benevolent men that ever lived. I trust the reader will find that I have adopted a very different course, that I have paid a scrupulous attention to truth, and that, without considering whether it made for or against the subject I was writing upon.
Nearly ten years have elapsed since the death of Mr. Paine. An authentic account of his life cannot, therefore, be considered premature. Besides which, it is presumed that the last ten years have afforded some opportunities of trying the strength of his opinions. The pressure of public calamity has rendered those principles popular, which the mere force of reasoning could not; and however gloomy appearances may have hitherto been, there is now, it is to be hoped, some prospect, that " truth will force its way even to thrones.”
The only ambition which I have had in writing the following pages is, that my statements should be accurate; and though the narrative may possibly in some instances be defective, from the difficulty of obtaining authentic information, yet, as a general outline of the character and
life of Mr. Paine, I trust it will be found both correct and complete.
The sources from whence I have obtained my information, are such as to place its correctness beyond all doubt. The greater part of my facts are derived from the personal and political friends of Mr. Paine, and the remainder from documents, the truth of which is indisputable. Towards the close of the work will be found an interesting Letter on the subject of his last moments, and as this document proves the fallacy of the general opinion respecting Mr. Paine's behaviour at that period, it will of necessity overthrow the inferences which the interested, the weak, and the ignorant have drawn therefrom. It will be some consolation to the conscientious unbeliever to know that Mr. Paine's death-bed recantation, about which we have heard so much, is an invented story, like those which were told about Voltaire, D'Alambert, and others who have held similar opinions.
A life more chequered, more eventful, more alternately distinguished by honours and misfortunes, was perhaps never recorded. The undertaking has, with a few exceptions, been an agreeable one, and if the reader experience as much pleasure in perusing, as I have done in writing the work, we shall both be amply gratified.
It has been frequently remarked, that the lives of eminent literary characters are little more than a recapitulation of their different works, with the dates and circumstances under which they were published. The secluded and obscure situation in which many of our most celebrated authors have lived and died, is a circumstance that in some degree sanctions the observation; but, however correct this may be, in many instances, there are numbers to which it is totally inapplicable. Amongst the exceptions to this rule, we shall invariably find our great political characters. The life of any man whose mind has been occupied in the researches of political literature must