페이지 이미지

to revile as an apostate and impostor. “ Agrarian Justice opposed to Agrarian law, and to Agrarian Monopoly;": "Letter to Mr. Erskine on the prosecution of T. Williams, for publishing the Age of Reason.” He continued in France till 1802, “ drunk," as his biographer informs us, “every day, mixing with the lowest company, and so filthy in his person, as to be avoided by all men of decency, His habitual drunkenness seems to have commenced with the delirium of the French revolution, and the practice gained upon him while in London." Tired at length with France, which now had nothing of a republic left, he wished to return to America, but knew not well what to do with himself. He could not return to England, where he had been outlawed, and he was aware that he was odious in the United States, where Washington had justly considered him as an anarchist in government, and an infidel in religion. He had no country in the world, and it may be truly said he had not a friend. He was obliged, however, to return to the United States, where his farm, now greatly increased in value, would supply all his wants.

In Oct. 1802, accordingly, he arrived at Baltimore, under the protection of the president Jefferson, but was no longer an object of curiosity, unless among the lower classes of emigrants from England, Scotland, or Ireland. With them, it appears," he drank grog in the tap-room, morning, noon, and night, admired and praised, strutting and staggering about, showing himself to all, and shaking hands with all; but the leaders of the party to which he had attached himself paid him no attention.” He had brought with him to America a woman, named madame Bonneville, whom 'he had seduced from her husband, with her two sons; and whom he seems to have treated with the utmost meanness and tyranny. By what charms he had seduced this lady, we are not told. He was now sixty-five years old, diseased in body from habitual drunkenness, and gross in manners. It would be too disgusting to follow his biographer in his description of the personal vices of this man. It may suffice that he appeared for many months before his death to be sunk to the lowest state of brutality.

The closing scene of his life, as related by his medical attendant, Dr. Manley, is too instructive and admonitory to be omitted. “ During the latter part of his life," says this physician, “though his conversation was equivocal, his conduct was singular. He would not be left alone night


or day. He not only required to have some person with him, but he must see that he or she was there, and would not allow his curtain to be closed at any time; and if, as it would sometimes unavoidably happen, he was left alone, he would scream and holla, until some person came to him. When relief from pain would admit, he seemed thoughtful and contemplative, his eyes being generally closet, and his hands folded upon his breast, although he never slept without the assistance of an anodyne. There was something remarkable in bis conduct about this period (which comprises about two weeks immediately preceding his death), particularly when we reflect, that Thomas Paine was author of the “ Age of Reason." He would call out during his paroxysms of distress, without intermission, O Lord help me, God help me, Jesus Christ help me, O Lord help me,' &c. repeating the same expression without any the least var ation, in a tove of voice that would alarm the house. It was this conduct which induced me to think that he bad abandoned bis former opinions; and I was more inclined to that belief, when I understood from his nurse (who is a very serious, and, I believe, pious woman,) that he would occasionally inquire, when he saw her engaged with a book, what she was reading, and being answered, and at the same time asked whether she should read aloud, he assented, and would appear to give particular attention. The book she usually read was ' Hobart's Companion for the Altar.'

“ I took occasion, during the night of the 5th and 6th of June, to test the strength of his opinions respecting revelation. I purposely made bim a very late visit; it was a time wbich seemed to sort exactly with my errand; it was midnight; he was in great distress, constantly exclaimning in the words, above mentioned; when, after a considerable preface, I addressed bim in the following manner, the nurse being present:

“Mr. Paine, your opinions, by a large portion of the community, have been treated with deference: you have never been in the habit of mixing in your conversation words of course : you bave never indulged in the practice of pro, fane swearing : you must be sensible that we are acquainted with your religious opinions as they are given to the world. What must we think of your present conduct ?

Why do you call upon Jesus Christ to help you? Do you belieye that he can help you? Do

you believe in the divinity of

Jesus Christ? Come now, answer me honestly; I want an answer as from the lips of a dying man, for I verily believe that you will not live twenty-four hours.' I waited some time at the end of every question; he did noi answer, but ceased to exclaim in the above manner. Again I addressed him : Mr. Paine, you have not answered my questions ;


you answer them?' Allow me to ask again, do you believe? or let me qualify the question, do you wish to believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God?' After a pause of some minutes, he answered, “I have no wish to believe on that subject. I then 'left him, and know not whether he afterwards spoke to any person, on any subject, though he lived, as I before observed, till the morning of the 8th.

“ Such conduct, under usual circumstances, I conceive absolutely unaccountable, though with diffidence I would remark, not so much so in the present instance; for though the first necessary and general result of conviction be a sincere wish to atone for evil committed, yet it may be a question worthy of able consideration whether exces: sive pride of opinion, consummate vanity, and inordinate self-love, might not prevent or retard that otherwise natural consequence?"

On the 8th of June, 1809, about nine in the morning, died this memorable man, aged seventy-two years and five months ; who at the close of the eighteenth century had well nigh persuaded the common people of England to think, that all was wrong in that government and that reJigion which their forefathers had transmitted to them, and under which they had enjoyed so many blessings. He had the merit of discovering, that the best way of diffusing discontent and revolutionary fanaticism was by a broad display, in their naked and barbarous forms, of those infidel and anarchical elements, which sophistry had, till his time, refined above the perceptions of the vulgar. By stripping, the mischief of the dress, though still covering it with the name and boast of philosophy, he rendered it as familiar to the capacity as it was flattering to the passions of the mob; and easy to be understood in proportion to the ascendancy of the baser qualities of the mind.

To this merit, and in a literary point of view, it is a merit, he seems justly entitled. He was familiar with those artifices of writing which very 'much promoted his objects. Things that are great are easily travestied. It is only to

express them in a vulgar idiom, and incorporate them with low ideas. This is always very gratifying to the mean, the little, and the envious; and perhaps this was one of his most successful tricks upon the multitude. He had, besides, a sort of plebeian simplicity of style, almost bordering upon naiveté, which clothed his imposture with the semblance of honesty; while the arrogance with which he treated great names was, with the base and contumelious, an argument of his conscious pride and independence of thinking

What he calls “the principles of society, acting upon the nature and conduct of man,' are sufficient of themselves, according to his simple theory, to produce and perpetuate all the happiness and order of civilized life. Government is only imposition disguising oppression, and protecting wrongful accumulation. The dignity of human nature, in its lowest forms, is thus flattered by the discos very that the beggar and the felon have justice on their side while the one petitions for, and the other enforces, the restitution of his original rights. What hungry reprobate does not relish the proposition, that it is government which debauches the purity of our morals, and brings in passion over reason, by a sort of usurpation, to perplex the simplicity of God's appointments ? Philosophy must not be insulted by opposing her polished weapons to this beggarly sophistry. There is one short and simple aphorism of common sense by which the whole of his tbeory is abundantly answered; and it is this, “Government is not made for men as they ought to be, but for men as they are; not for their possible perfection, but for their practical indigence.” This answer is co-extensive with the whole work of Mr. Paine upon the rights of man. It de molishes the whole fabric of his treacherous system. It dispels at once the clumsy fiction of his barbarous Utopia.

In perusing a man's writings, a pictures of the author himself is sometimes insensibly drawn in the imagination of the reader. By the perusal of the works of Thomas Paine, a most disgusting idea is presented to our thoughts both of the man and his manners. This idea is completely verified by the account which Mr. Cheetham has given us of his person and deportment. The paintings of Zeuxis attained a sort of ideal perfection by combining the scattered excellencies of the human countenance: to conceive the countenance, or the mind, of Mr. Thomas Paine, now that

death has withdrawn the living model, we must condense into an imaginary focus all the offensiveness and malignity that are dispersed throughout actual existence. Mr. Cheetham seems to have no hostility towards the man, and to be disposed to draw no inferences against him but what fairly arise from the facts. We may add too, that his facts appear to be collected from very credible sources of intelligence; from persons with whom Paine passed great part of his existence; and who, though not appearing to have much intercourse together, agree in the substance of their communications on this subject.'

PALÆMON (QUINTUS RHEMNIUS FANNIUS), a celebrated grammarian at Rome, in the reign of Tiberius, was born of a slave at Vicenza. It is said he was first brought up in a mechanical business, but while attending his master's son to school, he discovered so much taste for learning, and made so much progress in it, that he was thought worthy of his freedom, and became a teacher or preceptor at Rome.

With his learning he joined an excellent memory, and a ready elocution; and made extempore verses, then a very popular qualification. With all this merit, his manners were very dissolute, and he was so arrogant as to assert, that learning was born when he was born, and would die when he died; and that Virgil had inserted his name in his “ Eclogues” by a certain prophetic spirit; for that he, Palæmon, would infallibly become one day sole judge and arbiter of all poetry. He was excessively prodigal and lavish, and continually poor, notwithstanding the great sums be gained by teaching, and the profit he made, both by cultivating his lands, and in the way of traffic. There is an “Ars Grammatica” ascribed to him in the edition of the “ Grammatici Antiqui," and separately printed; and a work “De Ponderibus et Mensuris,” which is more doubtful.

PALÆPHATUS was a Greek philosopher, of whom a treatise in explication of ancient fables has been several times reprinted in Greek and Latin; the best edition is that of Fischer, Lips. 1761. But little is known of him, and there are several ancient writers of this name; one an Athenian, placed by the poets before the time of Homer ;

1 Cheetham's Life of Paine, 1809, reviewed in the “ British Review,” for June 1811, an article from which the best part of the above sketch has been borrowed.

3 Moreri.-Fabric. Bibl. Lat.-Saxii Onomast.

« 이전계속 »