The Cobbett Papers, ed. by Conway
THE COBBETT PAPERS
In the autumn of 1792, William Cobbett arrived in America. Among the papers preserved by the family of Thomas Jefferson is a letter from Cobbett, enclosing an introduction from Mr. Short, U. S. Secretary of Legation at Paris. In this letter, dated at Wilmington, Delaware, November 2, 1792, the young Englishman writes: “Ambitious to become the citizen of a free state I have left my native country, England, for America. I bring with me youth, a small family, a few useful literary talents, and that is all.”
Cobbett had been married in the same year, on February 5th, and visited Paris, perhaps with an intention of remaining, but becoming disgusted with the revolution he left for America. He had conceived a dislike of the French revolutionary leaders, among whom he included Paine. He thus became an easy victim of the libellous Life of Paine, by George Chalmers, which had not been reprinted in America, and reproduced the statements of that work in a brief biographical sketch pulished in Philadelphia, 1796. In later life Cobbett became convinced that he had been deceived into giving fresh currency to a tissue of slanders.
In the very year of this publication, afterwards much lamented, Paine published in Europe a work, that filled Cobbett with admiration. This was “The Decline and Fall of the English System of Finance,” which predicted the suspension of gold payments by the Bank of England that followed the next year. The pamphlet became Cobbett’s text-book, and his Register was eloquent in Paine’s praise, the more earnestly, he confessed, because he had “been one of his most violent assailants.”
“Old age having laid his hand upon this truly great man, this truly philosophical politician, at his expiring flambeau I lighted my taper.”
A sketch of Thomas Paine and some relate papers of Cobbett are generously confided to me by his daughter, Eleanor Cobbett, through he nephew, William Cobbett, Jr., of Woodlands, near Manchester, England. The public announcement (1818) by Cobbett, then in America, of his intention to write a Life of Paine , led to his negotiation with Madame Bonneville, who, with her husband, resided in New York. Madame Bonneville had been disposing of some of Paine’s manuscripts, such as that on”Freemasonry,” and the reply to Bishop Watson, printed in The Theophilanthropist (1810). She had also been preparing, with her husband’s assistance, notes for a biography of Paine, because of the “unjust efforts to tarnish the memory of Mr. Paine”; adding, “Et l’indignation m’a fait prendre la plume.” [“And the indignation made me take the feather.” – Digital Editor’s Translation.] Cobbett agreed to give her a thousand dollars for the manuscript, which was to contain important letters from and to eminent men. She stated (September 30, 1819) her conditions, that it should be published in England, without any addition, and separate from any other writings. I suppose it was one or all of these conditions that caused the non-completion of the bargain. Cobbett re-wrote the whole thing, and it is now all in his writing except a few passages by Madame Bonneville, which I indicate by brackets, and two or three by his son, J. P. Cobbett. Although Madame Bonneville gave some revision to Cobbett’s manuscript, most of the letters to be supplied are merely indicated. No trace of them exists among the Cobbett papers. Soon afterward the Bonnevilles went to Paris, where they kept a small book shop. Nicolas died in 1828. His biography in Michaud’s Dictionary is annotated by the widow, and states that in 1829 she had begun to edit for publication the Life and posthumous papers of Thomas Paine. From this it would appear that she had retained the manuscript, and the original letters. In 1833 Madame Bonneville emigrated to St. Louis, where her son, the late General Bonneville, lived. Her Catholicism became, I believe, devout with advancing years, and to that cause, probably also to a fear of reviving the old scandal Cheetham had raised, may be due the suppression of the papers, with the result mentioned in the introduction to this work. She died in St. Louis, October 30, 1846, at the age of 79. Probably William Cobbett did not feel entitled to publish the manuscript obtained under such conditions, or he might have waited for the important documents that were never sent. He died in 1835,
The recollections are those of both M. and Madame Bonneville. The reader will find no difficulty in making out the parts that represent Madame’s personal knowledge and reminiscences, as Cobbett has preserved her speech in the first person, and, with characteristic literary acumen, her expressions in such important points. His manuscript is perfect, and I have little editing to do beyond occasional correction of a date, supplying one or two letters indicated, which I have found, and omitting a few letters, extracts, etc., already printed in the body of this work, where unaccompanied by any comment or addition from either Cobbett or the Bonnevilles.
At the time when this Cobbett-Bonneville sketch was written New York was still a provincial place. Nicolas, Bonneville, as Irving describes him, seated under trees at the Battery, absorbed in his classics, might have been regarded with suspicion had it been known that his long separation from his family was due to detention by the police. Madame Bonneville is reserved on that point. The following incident, besides illustrating the characters of Paine and Bonneville, may suggest a cause for the rigor of Bonneville’s surveillance. In 1797, while Paine and Bonneville were editing the Bien Informe, a “suspect” sought asylum with them. This was Count Barruel-Beauvert, an author whose writings alone had caused his denunciation as a royalist. He had escaped from the Terror, and now wandered back in disguise, a pauper Count, who knew well the magnanimity of the two men whose protection he asked. He remained, as proof-reader, in the Bonneville house for some time, safely; but when the conspiracy of 18 Fructidor (September 4, 1797) exasperated the Republic against royalists, the Count feared that he might be the means of compromising his benefactors, and disappeared. When the royalist conspiracy against Bonaparte was discovered, Barruel-Beauvert was again hunted, and arrested (1802). His trial probably brought to the knowledge of the police his former sojourn with Paine and Bonneville. Bonaparte sent by Fouche a warning to Paine that the eye of the police was upon him, and that “on the first complaint he would be sent to his own country, America.” Whether this, and the closer surveillance on Bonneville, were connected with the Count, who also suffered for a time, or whether due to their antislavery writings on Domingo, remains conjectural. Towards the close of life Bonneville received a pension, which was continued to his widow. So much even a monarchy with an established church could do for a republican author, and a freethinker; for Bonneville had published heresies like those of Paine.
THOMAS PAINE. A SKETCH OF HIS LIFE AND CHARACTER.
[More exactly than any other author Thomas Paine delineates every Circumstantial Events, private or Public in his Writings; nevertheless, since many pretended Histories of the Life of T. P. have been published, tracing him back to the day of his]1 birth, we shall shortly observe, that, as was never denied by himself, he was born at Thetford, in the County of Norfolk, England on the 29 January, in the year 1737; that his father Joseph Paine was a stay-maker, and by religion a Quaker; that his mother was the daughter of a country-attorney, and that she belonged to the Church of England; but, it appears, that she also afterwards became a Quaker; for these parents both belonged to the Meeting in 1787, as appears from a letter of the father to the son. The abovementioned histories relate (and the correctness of the statement has not been denied by him), that Paine was educated at the free-school of Thetford; that he left it in 1752, when he was fifteen years of age, and then worked for some time with his father: that in a year afterwards, he went to London: that from London he went to Dover: that about this time he was on the eve of becoming a sailor: that he afterwards did embark on board a privateer: that, between the years 1759 and 1774 he was a staymaker, an excise officer, a grocer, and an usher to a school; and that, during the period he was twice married, and separated by mutual consent, from his second wife.2
In this year 1774 and in the month of September, Paine sailed from England for Philadelphia, where he arrived safe; and now we begin his history; for here we have him in connection with his literary labours.
It being an essential part of our plan to let Thomas Paine speak in his own words, and explain himself the reason for his actions, whenever we find written papers in his own hand, though in incomplete notes or fragments, we shall insert such, in order to enable the reader to judge for himself, and to estimate the slightest circumstances. Souvent d’un grand dessin un mot nous fait juger. “A word often enables us to judge of a great design.”
“I happened to come to America a few months before the breaking out of hostilities. I found the disposition of the people such that they might have been led by a thread and governed by a reed. Their suspicion was quick and penetrating, but their attachment to Britain was obstinate, and it was at that time a kind of treason to speak against it. They disliked the Ministry, but they esteemed the Nation. Their idea of grievance operated without resentment, and their single object was reconciliation. Bad as I believed the Ministry to be, I never conceived them capable of a measure so rash and wicked as the commencing of hostilities; much less did I imagine the Nation would encourage it. I viewed the dispute as a kind of law-suit, in which I supposed the parties would find a way either to decide or settle it. I had no thoughts of independence or of arms. The world could not then have persuaded me that I should be either a soldier or an author. If I had any talents for either they were buried in me, and might ever have continued so had not the necessity of the times dragged and driven them into action. I had formed my plan of life, and conceiving myself happy wished everybody else so. But when the country, into which I had just set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. It was time for every man to stir.”3
His first intention at Philadelphia was to establish an Academy for young ladies, who were to be taught many branches of learning then little known in the education of young American ladies. But, in 1775, he undertook the management of the Pennsylvania Magazine.
About this time he published, in Bradford’s journal, an essay on the slavery of the negroes, which was universally well received; and also stanzas on the death of General Wolfe.
In 1776, January 10, be published Common Sense. In the same year he joined the army as aid-de-camp to General Greene. Gordon, in his history of the Independence of the United States (vol. ii. p.78), says: [Wantiing.] – Ramsay (Lond. ed. i. p.336) says: [Wanting.] Anecdote of Dr. Franklin preserved by Thomas Paine: [Wanting, but no doubt one elsewhere given, in the Hall manuscripts.]
When Washington had made his retreat from New York, Thomas Paine published the first number of the Crisis, which, was read to every corporal’s guard in the camp. It revived the army, reunited the members of the [New York] Convention, when despair had reduced them to nine in number, while the militia were abandoning their standards and flying in all directions. The success of the army at Trenton was, in some degree, owing to this first number of the Crisis. In 1778 he discovered the robberies of Silas Deane, an agent of the United States in France. He gave in his resignation as Secretary, which was accepted by the Congress. In 1779 he was appointed Clerk to the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, which office he retained until 1780. In 1780 be departed for France with Col. John Laurens, commissioned especially by the Congress to the Court at Versailles to obtain the aid that was wanted. (See Gordon’s Hist., v. iii., p.154.) After his return from France he received the following letter from Col. Laurens:
“CAROLINA, April 18, 1782.
“I received the letter wherein you mention my horse and trunk, (the latter of which was left at Providence). The misery which the former has suffered at different times, by mismanagement, has greatly distressed me. He was wounded in service, and I am much attached to him. If he can be of any service to you, I entreat your acceptance of him, more especially if you will make use of him in bringing you to a country (Carolina) where you will be received with open arms, and all that affection and respect which one, citizens are anxious to testify to the author of Common Sense, and the Crisis.
“Adieu! I wish you to regard this part of America (Carolina) as your particular home – and everything that I can command in it to be in common between us.”
On the 10th of April, 1783, the definitive treaty of peace was received and published. Here insert the letter from Gen. Nathaniel Greene:
“ASHLEY-RIVES (Carolina), Nov. 18, 1782. –
“Many people wish to get you into this country. see you are determined to follow your genius and not your fortune. I have always been in hopes that Congress would have made some handsome acknowledgement to you for past services. I must confess that I think you have been shamefully neglected; and that America is indebted to few characters more than to you. But as your passion leads to fame, and not to wealth, your mortification will be the less. Your fame for your writings, will be immortal. At present my expenses are great; nevertheless, if you are not conveniently situated, I shall take a pride and pleasure in contributing all in my power to render your situation happy.”4
The letter from his father.
“Dear Son, &c.” [Lost.]
The following letter from William Livingston (Trenton, 4 November, 1784) will show that Thomas Paine was not only honored with the esteem of the most famous persons, but that they were all convinced that he had been useful to the country5.
At this time Thomas Paine was living with Colonel Kirkbride, Bordentown, where he remained till his departure for France. He had bought a house [in], and five acres of marshy land over against, Bordentown, near the Delaware, which overflowed it frequently. He sold the land in 1787.
“Congress gave an order for three thousand dollars, which Thomas Paine received in the same month.
“Early in 1787 he departed for France. He carried with him the model of a bridge of his own invention and construction, which he submitted, in a drawing, to the French Academy, by whom it was approved. From Paris he went to London on the 3 September 1787; and in the same month he went to Thetford, where he found his father was dead, from the small-pox; and where he settled an allowance on his mother of 9 shillings a week.
A part of 1788 he passed in Rotherham, in Yorkshire, where his bridge was cast and erected, chiefly at the expense of the ingenious Mr. Walker. The experiment, however, cost Thomas Paine a considerable sum.
When Burke published his Reflexions on the French Revolution, Thomas Paine answered him in his First Part of The Rights of Man. In January, 1792, appeared the Second Part of the Rights of Man. The sale of the Rights of Man was prodigious, amounting in the course of one year to about a hundred thousand copies.
In 1792 he was prosecuted for his Rights of Man by the Attorney General,, McDonald, and was defended by Mr. Erskine, and found guilty of libel. But he was now in France, and could not be brought up for judgment.
Each district of France sent electors to the principal seat of the Department, where the Deputies to the National Assembly were chosen. Two Departments appointed Thomas Paine their Deputy, those of Oise and of Pas de Calais, of which he accepted the latter. He received the following letter from the President of the National Assembly, Herault de Sechelles:
“To THOMAS PAINE:
“France calls you, Sir, to its bosom, to perform one of the most useful and most honorable functions, that of contributing, by wise legislation, to the happiness of a people, whose destinies interest all who think and are united with the welfare of all who suffer in the world.
“It becomes the nation that has proclaimed the Rights of Man, to desire among her legislators him who first dared to estimate the consequences of those Rights, and who has developed their principles with that Common Sense, which is the only genius inwardly felt by all men, and the conception of which springs forth from nature and truth.
“The National Assembly gave you the title of Citizen, and bad seen with pleasure that its decree was sanctioned by the only legitimate authority, that of the people, who had already claimed you, even before you were nominated.
“Come, Sir, and enjoy in France the most interesting of, scenes for an observer and a philosopher, – that of a confiding and generous people who, infamously betrayed for three years, and wishing at last to end the struggle between slavery and liberty, between sincerity and perfidy, at length arises in its resolute and gigantic force, gives up to the sword of the law those guilty crowned things who betrayed them, resists the barbarians whom they raised up to destroy the nation. Her, citizens turned soldiers, her territory into camp and fortress, she yet calls and collects in congress the lights scattered. through the universe. Men of genius, the most capable for their wisdom and virtue, she now calls to give to her people a government the most proper to insure their liberty and happiness.
“The Electoral Assembly of the Department of Oise, anxious to be the first to elect you, has been so fortunate as to insure to itself that honour; and when many of my fellow citizens desired me to inform you of your election, I remembered, with infinite pleasure, having seen you at Mr. Jefferson’s, and I congratulated myself on having had the pleasure of knowing you.
“President of the National Assembly.”
At the trial of Louis XVI. before the National Convention Thomas Paine at the Tribune, with the deputy Bancal for translator and interpreter, gave his opinion, written, on the capital sentence on Louis: – That, though a Deputy of the National Convention of France, he could not forget, that, previous to his being that, he was a citizen of the United States of America, which owed their liberty to Louis, and that gratitude would not allow him to vote for the death of the benefactor of America. On the 21st of January, 1793, Louis XVI was beheaded in the Square of Louis XV (Letter to Marat.)6.
Thomas Paine was named by the Assembly as one of the Committee of Legislation, and, as he could not discuss article by article without the aid of an interpreter, he drew out a plan of a constitution7.
The reign of terror began on the night of the 10th of March 1793, when the greatest number and the best part of the real friends to freedom had retired [from the Convention]. But, as the intention of the conspiracy against the Assembly had been suspected, as the greatest part of the Deputies they wished to sacrifice had been informed of the threatening danger, as, moreover, a mutual fear [existed] of the cunning tyrany of some usurper, the conspirators, alarmed, could not this night consummate their horrible machinations. They therefore, for this time, confined themselves to single degrees of accusation and arrestation against the most valuable part of the National Convention. Robespiere had placed himself at the head of a conspiring Common-Hall, which dared to dictate laws of blood and proscription to the Convention. All those whom he could not make bend under a Dictatorship, which a certain number of anti-revolutionists feigned to grant him, as a tool which they could destroy at pleasure, were guilty of being suspected, and secretly destined to disappear from among the living. Thomas Paine, as his marked enemy and rival, by favour of the decree on the suspected was classed among the suspected, and, as a foreigner, was imprisoned in the Luxembourg in December 1793 (See Letter to Washington.)8.
From this document it will be seen, that, while in the prison, he was, for a month, afflicted with an illness that deprived him of his memory. It was during this illness of Thomas Paine that the fall of Robespierre took place. Mr. Monroe, who arrived at Paris some days afterwards, wrote to Mr. Paine, assuring him of his friendship, as appears from the letter to Washington. Fifteen days afterwards Thomas Paine received a letter from Peter Whiteside.9 In consequence of this letter Thomas Paine wrote a memorial to Mr. Monroe. Mr. Monroe now claimed Thomas Paine, and he came out of the prison an the 6th of November, 1794, after ten months of imprisonment. He went to live with Mr. Monroe, who had cordially offered him his house. In a short time after, the Convention called him to take his seat in that Assembly; which he did, for the reasons he alleges in his letter to Washington.
The following two pieces Thomas Paine wrote while in Prison: “Essay on Aristocracy.” “Essay on the Character of Robespierre.” [Both missing.]
Thomas Paine received the following letter from Madame Lafayette, whose husband was then a prisoner of war in Austria:
“19 BRUMAIRE, PARIS.
“I was this morning so much agitated by the kind visit from Mr. Monroe, that I could hardly find words to speak; but, however, I was, my dear Sir, desirous to tell you, that the news of your being set at liberty, which I this morning learnt from General Kilmaine, who arrived here at the same time with me, has given me a moment’s consolation in the midst of this abyss of misery, where I shall all my life remain plunged. Gen. Kilmaine has told me that you recollected me, and have taken great interest in my situation; for which I am exceedingly grateful.
“Accept, along with Mr. Monroe, my congratulations upon your being restored to each other, and the assurances of these sentiments from her who is proud to proclaim them, and who well deserved the title of citizen of that second country, though I have assuredly never failed, nor shall ever fail, to the former. Salut and friendship.
“With all sincerity of my heart,
On the 27 January, 1794, Thomas Paine published in Paris, the First Part of “The Age of Reason.”
Seeing the state of things in America, Thomas Paine wrote a letter to Gen. Washington, 22 February 1795. Mr. Monroe entreated him not to send it, and, accordingly it was not sent to Washington; but it was afterwards published.
A few months after his going out of prison, he had a violent fever. Mrs. Monroe showed him all possible kindness and attention. She provided him with an excellent nurse, who had for him all the anxiety and assiduity of a sister. She neglected nothing to afford him case and comfort, when he was totally unable to help himself. He was in the state of a helpless child who has its face and hands washed by its mother. The surgeon was the famous Dessault, who cured him of an abscess which he had in his side. After the horrible 13 Brumaire, a friend of Thomas Paine being very sick, lie, who was in the house, went to bring his own excellent nurse to take care of his sick friend: a fact of little account in itself, but a sure evidence of ardent and active friendship and kindness.
The Convention being occupied with a discussion of the question of what Constitution ought to be adopted, that of 1791 or that of 1793, Thomas Paine made a speech (July 7, 1795) as a member of the [original] Committee [on the Constitution] and Lanthenas translated it and read it in the Tribune. This speech has been translated into English, and published in London; but, the language of the author has been changed by the two translations. It is now given as written by the author. [Missing.]
In April, 1796, he wrote his Decline and Fall of the British System of Finance; and, on the 30th of July of that year he sent his letter to Washington off for America by Mr. ____ who sent it to Mr. Bache, a newspaper printer of Philadelphia, to be published, and it was published the same year. The name of the gentleman who conveyed the letter, and who wrote the following to Thomas Paine, is not essential and therefore we suppress it. [Missing.]
We here insert a letter from Talleyrand, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to show that Thomas Paine was always activeand attentive in doing every thing which would be useful to America. [Missing.]
Thomas Paine after he came out of prison and had reentered the Convention wrote the following letter. [Missing.]
The following is essentially connected with the foregoing: Paris, October 4, 1796.” [Missing.]
In October, 1796, Thomas Paine published the Second Part of the Age of Reason.
This year Mr. Monroe departed from France, and soon after Thomas Paine went to Havre de Grace, to embark for the United States. But, he did not, upon inquiry, think it prudent to go, on account of the great number of English vessels then cruizing in the Channel. He therefore came back to Paris; but, while at Havre, wrote the following letter, 13 April 1797, to a friend at Paris. [Missing.]
The following letter will not, we hope, seem indifferent to the reader: “Dear Sir, I wrote to you etc.” [Missing.]
At this time it was that Thomas Paine took up his abode at Mr. Bonneville’s, who had known him at the Minister Roland’s, and as Mr. B. spoke English, Thomas Paine addressed himself to him in a more familiar and friendly manner than to any other persons of the society. It was a reception of Hospitality which was here given to Thomas Paine for a week or a fortnight; but, the visit lasted till 1802, when he and Mr. Bonneville parted, – alas never to meet again!
Our House was at No. 4 Rue du Theatre Franc,ois. All the first floor was occupied as a printing office. The whole house was pretty well filled; and Mr. Bonneville gave up his study, which was not a large one, and a bedchamber to Thomas Paine. He was always in his apartments excepting at meal times. He rose late. He then used to read the newspapers, from which, though he understood but little of the French language when spoken, he did not fail to collect all the material information relating to politics, in which subject he took most delight. When he had his morning’s reading, be used to carry back the journals to Mr. Bonneville, and they had a chat upon the topicks of the day.
If he had a short jaunt to take, as for instance, to Puteaux just by the bridge of Neuilly, where Mr. Skipwith lived, he always went on foot, after suitable preparations for the journey in that way. I do not believe be ever hired a coach to go out on pleasure during the whole of his stay in Paris. He laughed at those who, depriving themselves of a wholesome exercise, could make no other excuse for the want of it than that they were able to take it whenever they pleased. He was never idle in the house. If not writing he was busily employed on some mechanical invention, or else entertaining his visitors. Not a day escaped without his receiving many visits. Mr, Barlow, Mr. Fulton, Mr. Smith [Sir Robert] came very often to see him. Many travellers also called on him; and, often, having no other affair, talked to him only of his great reputation and their admiration of his works. He treated such visitors with civility, but with little ceremony, and, when their conversation was mere chit-chat, and he found they had nothing particular to say to him, he used to retire to his own pursuits, leaving them to entertain themselves with their own ideas.
He sometimes spent his evenings at Mr. Barlow’s, where
Mr. Fulton lived, or at Mr. Smith’s [Sir Robert], and sometimes at an Irish Coffee-house in Conde Street, where Irish, English, and American people met. He here learnt the state of politics in England and America. He never went out after dinner without first taking a nap, which was always of two or three hours length. And, when he went out to a dinner of parade, he often came home for the purpose of taking his accustomed sleep. It was seldom he went into the society of French people; except when, by seeing some one in office or power, he could obtain some favour for his countrymen who might be in need of his good offices. These he always performed with pleasure, and he never failed to adopt the most likely means to secure success. But in one instance he failed. He wrote as follows to Lord Cornwallis; but, he did not save Napper Tandy. Letter to Lord Cornwallis. Letter 27 Brumaire, 4 year. Letter 23 Germinal 4 year. [The three letters missing.]
C. Jourdan made a report to the Convention on the reestablishment of Bells, which had been suppressed, and, in great part melted. Paine published, on this occasion, a letter to C. Jourdan10.
He had brought with him from America, as we have seen, a model of a bridge of his own construction and invention, which, model had been adopted in England for building bridges under his own direction. He employed part of his time, while at our house, in bringing this model to high perfection, and this accomplished to his wishes. He afterwards, and according the model, made a bridge of lead, which he accomplished by moulding different blocks of lead, which, when joined together, made the form that he required. This was most pleasant amusement for him. Though he fully relied on the strength of his new bridge, and would produce arguments enough in proof of its infallible strength, he often demonstrated the proof by blows of the sledge-hammer, not leaving anyone in doubt on the subject. One night he took off the scaffold of his bridge and seeing that it stood firm under the repeated strokes of hammer, he was so ravished that an enjoyment so great was not to be sufficiently felt if confined to his own bosom. He was not satisfied without admirers of his success. One night we had just gone to bed, and were surprised at hearing repeated strokes of the hammer. Paine went into Mr. Bonneville’s room and besought him to go and see his bridge. come and look, said he, it bears all my blows and stands like a rock. Mr. Bonneville arose, as well to please himself by seeing a happy man as to please him by looking at his bridge. Nothing would do, unless I saw the sight as well as Mr. Bonneville. After much exultation: “nothing, in the world,” said he, “is so fine as my bridge”; and, seeing me standing by without uttering a word, he added, “except a woman!” which happy compliment to the sex he seemed to think, a full compensation for the trouble caused by this nocturnal visit to the bridge.
A machine for planing boards was his next invention, which machine be had executed partly by one blacksmith and partly by another. The machine being put together by him, he placed it on the floor, and with it planed boards to any number that he required, to make some models of wheels. Mr. Bonneville has two of these wheels now. There is a specification of the wheels, given by Mr. Paine himself. This specification, together with a drawing of the model, made by Mr. Fulton, were deposited at Washington, in February 1811; and the other documents necessary to obtain a patent as an invention of Thomas Paine, for the benefit of Madam Bonneville. To be presented to the Directory of France, a memorial on the progress and construction of iron bridges. On this subject the two pieces here subjoined will throw sufficient light. (Memoir upon Bridges.– Upon Iron Bridges. – To the Directory – Memoir on the Progress and Construction, &c.)
Preparations were made, real or simulated, for a Descent upon England. Thomas Paine was consulted by B. 8. who was then in the house of Talma, and he wrote the following notes and instructions. Letter at Brussells. – The C,a-ira of America.– To the Consul Lepeaux.11
Chancellor Livingston, after his arrival in France, came a few times to see Paine. One morning we had him at breakfast, Dupuis, the author of the Origin of Worship, being of the party; and Mr. Livingston, when he got up to go away, said to Mr. Paine smiling, “Make your Will; leave the mechanics, the iron bridge, the wheels, etc. to America, and your religion to France.”
Thomas Paine, while at our house, published in Mr. Bonneville’s journal (the Bien Informe) several articles on passing events.12
A few days before his departure for America, he said, at Mr. Smith’s [Sir Robert] that he had nothing to detain him in France; for that he was neither in love, debt, nor difficulty. Some lady observed, that it was not, in the company of ladies, gallant to say he was not in love. Upon this occasion he wrote the New Covenant, from the Castle in the Air to the Little Corner of the World, in three stanzas, and sent it with the following words:
“As the ladies are better judges of gallantry than the men are, I will thank you to tell me, whether the enclosed be gallantry. If it be, it is truly original; and the merit of it belongs to the person who inspired it.” The following was the answer of Mrs. Smith. “If the usual style of gallantry was as clever as your new covenant, many a fair ladies heart would be in danger, but the Little Corner of the World receives it from the Castle in the Air; it is agreeable to her as being the elegant fancy of a friend.
"C. SMITH." [Stanzas missing.]
At this time, 1802, public spirit was at end in France. The real republicans were harrassed by eternal prosecutions. Paine was a truly grateful man: his friendship was active and warm, and steady. During the six years that he lived in our house, he frequently pressed us to go to America, offering us all that he should be able to do for us, and saying that he would bequeath his property to our children. Some affairs of great consequence made it impracticable for Mr. Bonneville to quit France; but, foreseeing a new revolution, that would strike, personally, many of the Republicans, it was resolved, soon after the departure of Mr. Paine for America, that I should go thither with my children, relying fully on the good offices of Mr. Paine, whose conduct in America justified that reliance.
In 1802 Paine left France, regretted by all who knew him. He embarked at Havre de Grace on board a stout ship, belonging to Mr. Patterson, of Baltimore, be being the only passenger. After a very stormy passage, be landed at Baltimore on the 30th of October, 1812. He remained there but a few days, and then went to Washington, where he published his Letters to the Americans.
A few months afterwards, he went to Bordentown, to his friend Col. Kirkbride, who had invited him, on his return, by the following letter of 12 November, 1802. [Missing.]
He staid at Bordentown about two months, and then went to New York, where a great number of patriots gave him a splendid dinner at the City Hotel. In June, 1803, be went to Stonington, New England, to see some friends; and in the autumn he went to his farm at New Rochelle. (The letter of Thomas Paine to Mr. Bonneville, 20 Nov., 1803.) [Missing.]
An inhabitant of this village offered him an apartment, of which he accepted, and while here he was taken ill. His complaint was a sort of paralytic affection, which took away the use of his bands. He had had the same while at Mr. Monroe’s in Paris, after he was released from prison. Being better, he went to his farm, where he remained a part of the winter, and he came to New York to spend the rest of it; but in the spring (1804) be went back to his farm. The farmer who had had his farm for 17 or 18 years, instead of paying his rent, brought Mr. Paine a bill for fencing, which made Paine his debtor! They had a law-suit by which Paine got nothing but the right of paying the law-expenses! This and other necessary expenses compelled him to sell sixty acres of his land. He then gave the honest farmer notice to quit the next April (1805).
Upon taking possession of the farm himself, he hired Christopher Derrick to cultivate it for him. He soon found that Derrick was not fit for his place, and lie, therefore, discharged him. This was in the summer; and, on Christmas Eve ensuing, about six o’clock, Mr. Paine being in his room, on the ground floor, reading, a gun was fired a few yards from the window. The contents of the gun struck the bottom part of the window, and all the charge, which was of small shot, lodged, as was next day discovered, in the window sill and wall. The shooter, in firing the gun, fell; and the barrel of the gun had entered the ground where he fell, and left an impression, which Thomas Paine observed the next morning. Thomas Paine went immediately to the house of a neighboring farmer, and there (seeing a gun, he took hold of it, and perceived that the muzzle of the gun was filled with fresh earth. And then he heard that Christopher Derick had borrowed the gun about five o’clock the evening before, and had returned it again before six o’clock the same evening. Derick was arrested, and Purdy, his brother farmer, became immediately and voluntarily his bail. The cause was brought forward at New Rochelle; and Derick was acquitted.13
In 1806 Thomas Paine offered to vote at New Rochelle for the election. But his vote was not admitted; on the pretence only of his not being a citizen of America; whereon he wrote the following letters. [The letters are here missing, but no doubt the same as those on pp. 379-80 of this volume, Conway’s “The Life of Thomas Paine,” vol. ii.]
This case was pleaded before the Supreme Court of New York by Mr. Riker, then Attorney General, and, though Paine lost his cause, I as his legatee, did not lose the having to pay for it. It is however, an undoubted fact, that Mr. Paine was an American Citizen.
He remained at New Rochelle till June 1807; till disgust of every kind, occasioned by the gross and brutal conduct of some of the people there, made him resolve to go and live at New York.
On the 4th of April, 1807, he wrote the following letter to Mr. Bonneville [in Paris]:
“MY DEAR BONNEVILLE:
“Why don’t you come to America. Your wife and two boys, Benjamin and Thomas, are here, and in good health. They all speak English very well; but Thomas has forgot his French. I intend to provide for the boys, but, I wish to see you here. We heard of you by letters by Madget and Captain Hailey. Mrs. Bonneville, and Mrs. Thomas, an English woman keep an academy for young ladies.
“I send this by a friend, Mrs. Champlin, who will call on Mercier at the Institute, to know where you are.
“Your affectionate friend.”
And some time after the following letter.
“MY DEAR BONNEVILLE:
“I received your letter by Mrs. Champlin, and also the letter for Mrs. Bonneville, and one from her sister. I have written to the American Minister in Paris, Mr. Armstrong, desiring him to interest himself to have your surveillance taken off on condition of your coming to join your family in the United States.
“This letter, with Mrs. Bonneville’s, come to you under cover to the American Minister from Mr. Madison, Secretary of State. As soon as you receive it I advise you to call on General Armstrong and inform him of the proper method to have your surveillance taken off. Mr. Champagny, who succeeds Talleyrand, is, I suppose, the same who was Minister of the Interior, from whom I received a handsome friendly letter, respecting the iron bridge. I think you once went with me to see him.
“Call on Mr. Skipwith with my compliments. He will inform you what vessels will sail for New York and where from. Bordeaux will be the best place to sail from. I believe Mr. Lee is American Consul at Bordeaux. When you arrive there, call on him, with my compliments. You may contrive to arrive at New York in April or May. The passages., in the Spring, are generally short; seldom more than five weeks, and often less.
“Present my respects to Mercier, Bernardin St. Pierre, Dupuis, Gregoire. – When you come, I intend publishing all my works, and those I have yet in manuscript, by subscription. They will make 4 or 5 Vol. 4DEG, or 5 vol. 8DEG, about 400 pages each.
“Yours in friendship.
While Paine was one day taking his usual after-dinner nap, an old woman called, and, asking for Mr. Paine, said she had something of great importance to communicate to him. She was shown into his bed-chamber; and Paine, raising himself on his elbow, and turning towards the woman, said: “What do you want with me?” “I came,” said she, “from God, to tell you, that if you don’t repent, and believe in Christ, you’ll be dammed.” “Poh, poh, it’s not true,” said Paine; “you are not sent with such an impertinent message. Send her away. Pshaw! God would not send such a foolish ugly old woman as you. Turn this messenger out. Getaway; be off: shut the door.” And so the old woman packed herself off.
After his arrival Paine published several articles in the newspapers of New York and Philadelphia. Subsequent to a short illness which he had in 1807, he could not walk without pain, and the difficulty of walking increased every day. On the 21st of January, 1808, he addressed a memorial to the Congress of the United States, asking remuneration for his services; and, on the 14th of February, the same year, another on the same subject. These documents and his letter to the Speaker are as follows.15
The Committee of Claims, to which the memorial had been submitted, passed the following resolution: “Resolved, that Thomas Paine has leave to withdraw his memorial and the papers accompanying the same.” He was deeply grieved at this refusal; some have blamed him for exposing himself to it. But, it should be recollected, that his expenses were greatly augmented by his illness, and he saw his means daily diminish, while he feared a total palsy; and while he expected to live to a very great age, as his ancestors had before him. His money yielded no interest, always having been unwilling to place money out in that way.
He had made his will in 1807, during the short illness already noticed. But three months later, he assembled his friends, and read to them another will; saying that he had believed such and such one to be his friend, and that now having altered his belief in them, he had also altered his will. From motives of the same kind, he, three months before his death, made another will, which he sealed up and directed to me, and gave it me to keep, observing to me, that I was more interested in it than any body else.
He wished to be buried in the Quaker burying ground, and sent for a member of the committee [Willett Hicks] who lived in the neighborhood. The interview took place on the 19th of March, 1809. Paine said, when we were looking out for another lodging, we had to put in order the affairs of our present abode. This was precisely the case with him; all his affairs were settled, and he had only to provide his burying ground; his father had been a Quaker, and he hoped they would not refuse him a grave I will,” added he, “pay for the digging of it.”
The committee of the Quakers refused to receive his body, at which he seemed deeply moved, and observed to me, who was present at the interview, that their refusal was foolish. “You will,” said I, “be buried on your farm.” “I have no objection to that,” said lie “but the farm will be sold, and they will dig my bones up before they be half rotten.” “Mr. Paine,” I replied, “have confidence in your friends. I assure you, that the place where you will be buried, shall never be sold.” He seemed satisfied; and never spoke upon this subject again. I have been as good as my word.
Last December  the land of the farm having been divided between my children, I gave fifty dollars to keep apart and to myself, the place whereon the grave was.
Paine, doubtless, considered me and my children as strangers in America. His affection for us was, at any rate, great and sincere. He anxiously recommended us to the protection of Mr. Emmet, saying to him, “when I am dead, Madam Bonneville will have no friend here.” And a little time after, obliged to draw money from the Bank, he said, with an air of sorrow, “you will have nothing left.”16
He was now become extremely weak. His strength and appetite daily departed from him; and in the day-time only he was able, when not in bed, to sit up in his arm-chair to read the newspapers, and sometimes write. When he could no longer quit his bed, he made some one read the newspapers to him. His mind was always active. He wrote nothing for the press after writing his last will, but he would converse, and took great interest in politics. The vigour of his mind, which had always so strongly characterized him, did not leave him to the last moment. He never complained of his bodily sufferings, though they became excessive. His constitution was strong. The want of exercise alone was the cause of his sufferings. Notwithstanding the great inconveniences he was obliged to sustain during his illness, in a carman’s house [Ryder’s], in a small village [Greenwich], without any bosom friend in whom he could repose confidence, without any society he liked, he still did not complain of his sufferings. I indeed, went regularly to see him twice a week; but, he said to me one day: “am here alone, for all these people are nothing to me, day after day, week after week, month after month, and you don’t come to see me.”
In a conversation between him and Mr. [Albert] Gallatin, about this time, I recollect his using these words: “I am very sorry that I ever returned to this country.” As he was thus situated and paying a high price for his lodgings17 he expressed a wish to come to my house. This must be a great inconvenience to me from the frequent visits to Mr. Thomas Paine; but, I, at last, consented; and hired a house in the neighborhood, in May 1809, to which he was carried in an arm-chair, after which he seemed calm and satisfied, and gave himself no trouble about anything. He had no disease that required a Doctor, though Dr. Romaine came to visit him twice a week. The swelling, which had commenced at his feet, had now reached his body, and some one had been so officious as to tell him that he ought to be tapped. He asked me if this was necessary. I told him, that I did not know; but, that, unless he was likely to derive great good from it, it should not be done. The next [day] Doctor Romaine came and brought a physician with him, and they resolved that the tapping need not take place.
He now grew weaker and weaker very fast. A very few days before his death, Dr. Romaine said to me, “I don’t think he can live till night.” Paine, hearing some one speak, opens his eyes, and said: “’T is you Doctor: what news?” “Mr. such an one is gone to France on such business.” “He will do nothing there,” said Paine. “Your belly diminishes,” said the Doctor. “And yours augments,” said Paine.
When be was near his end, two American clergymen came to see him, and to talk with him on religious matters. “Let me alone,” said he; “good morning.” He desired they should be admitted no more. One of his friends came to New York; a person for whom he had a great esteem, and whom he had not seen for a long while. He was overjoyed at seeing him; but, this person began to speak upon religion, and Paine turned his head on the other side, and remained silent, even to the adieu of the person18.
Seeing his end fast approaching, I asked him, in presence of a friend, if he felt satisfied with the treatment he had received at our house, upon which he could only exclaim, O! yes! He added other words, but they were incoherent. It Was impossible for me not to exert myself to the utmost in taking care of a person to whom I and my children owed so much. He now appeared to have lost all kind of feeling. He spent the night in tranquillity, and expired in the morning at eight o’clock, after a short oppression, at my house in Greenwich, about two miles from the city of New York. Mr. Jarvis, a Painter, who had formerly made a portrait of him, moulded his head in plaster, from which a bust was executed.
He was, according to the American custom, deposited in a mahogany coffin, with his name and age engraved on a silverplate, put on the coffin. His corpse was dressed in a shirt, a muslin gown tied at neck and wrists with black ribbon, stockings, drawers; and a cap was put under his head as a pillow. (He never slept in a night-cap.) Before the coffin was placed on the carriage, I went to see him; and having a rose in my bosom, I took it out, and placed on his breast. Death had not disfigured him. Though very thin, his bones were not protuberant. He was not wrinkled, and had lost very little hair.
His voice was very strong even to his last moments. He often exclaimed, oh, lord help me! An exclamation the involuntary effect of pain. He groaned deeply, and when a question was put to him, calling him by his name, he opened his eyes, as if waking from a dream. He never answered the question, but asked one himself; as, what is it o’clock, &c.
On the ninth of June my son and I, and a few of Thomas Paine’s friends, set off with the corpse to New Rochelle, a place 22 miles from New York. It was my intention to have him buried in the Orchard of his own farm; but the farmer who lived there at that time said, that Thomas Paine, walking with him one day, said, pointing to another part of the land, he was desirous of being buried there. “Then,” said I, “that shall be the place of his burial.” And, my instructions were accordingly put in execution. The headstone was put up about a week afterwards with the following inscription: “Thomas Paine, Author of”Common Sense,” died the eighth of June, 1809, aged 72 years.” According to his will, a wall twelve feet square was erected round his tomb. Four trees have been planted outside the wall, two weeping willows and two cypresses. Many persons have taken away pieces of the tombstone and of the trees, in memory of the deceased; foreigners especially have been eager to obtain these memorials, some of which have been sent to England19. They have been put in frames and preserved. Verses in honor of Paine have been written on the bead stone. The grave is situated at the angle of the farm, by the entrance to it.
This interment was a scene to affect and to wound any sensible heart. Contemplating who it was, what man it was, that we were committing to an obscure grave on an open and disregarded bit of land, I could not help feeling most acutely. Before the earth was thrown down upon the coffin, I, placing myself at the east end of the grave, said to my son Benjamin, “stand you there, at the other end, as a witness for grateful America.” Looking round me, and beholding the small group of spectators, I exclaimed, as the earth was tumbled into the grave, “Oh! Mr. Paine! My son stands here as testimony of the gratitude of America, and I, for France!” This was the funeral ceremony of this great politician and philosopher!20
The eighty-eight acres of the north part were sold at 25 dollars an acre. The half of the south (the share of Thomas de Bonneville) has been sold for the total sum of 1425 dollars. The other part of the south, which was left to Benjamin de Bonneville, has just (1819) been sold in lots, reserving the spot in which Thomas Paine was buried, being a piece of land 45 feet square.
Thomas Paine’s posthumous works. He left the manuscript of his answer to Bishop Watson; the Third Part of his Age of Reason; several pieces on Religious subjects, prose and verse. The great part of his posthumous political works will be found in the Appendix. Some correspondences cannot be, as yet, published21.
In Mechanics he has left two models of wheels for carriages, and of a machine to plane boards. Of the two models of bridges, left at the Philadelphia Museum, only one has been preserved, and that in great disorder, one side being taken entirely off. But, I must say here, that it was then out of the hands of Mr. Peale.22
Though it is difficult, at present, to make some people believe that, instead of being looked on as a deist and a drunkard, Paine ought to be viewed as a philosopher and a truly benevolent man, future generations will make amends for the errors of their forefathers, by regarding him as a most worthy man, and by estimating his talents and character according to their real worth.
Thomas Paine was about five feet nine inches high, English measure, and about five feet six French measure. His bust was well proportioned; and his face oblong. Reflexion was the great expression of his face; in which was always seen the calm proceeding from a conscience void of reproach. His eye, which was black, was lively and piercing, and told us that he saw into the very heart of hearts [of any one who wished to deceive him]23. A most benignant smile expressed what he felt upon receiving an affectionate salutation, or praise delicately conveyed. His leg and foot were elegant, and he stood and walked upright, without stiffness or affectation. [He never wore a sword nor cane], but often walked with his hat in one hand and with his other hand behind his back. His countenance, when walking, was generally thoughtful. In receiving salutations he bowed very gracefully, and, if from an acquaintance, he did not begin with “how d’ ye do?” but, with a “what news?” If they had none, he gave them his. His beard, his lips, his head, the motion of his eye-brow, all aided in developing his mind.
Was he where he got at the English or American newspapers, he hastened to over-run them all, like those who read to make extracts for their paper. His first glance was for the funds, which, in spite of jobbing and the tricks of government, he always looked on as the sure thermometer of public affairs. Parliamentary Debates, the Bills, concealing a true or sham opposition of such or such orators, the secret pay and violent theatrical declamation, or the revelations of public or private meetings at the taverns; these interested him so much that he longed for an ear and a heart to pour forth all his soul. When he added that he knew the Republican or the hypocrite, he would affirm, beforehand, that such or such a bill, such or such a measure, would take place; and very seldom, in such a case, the cunning politic or the clear-sighted observer was mistaken in his assertions; for they were not for him mere conjectures. He spoke of a future event as of a thing past and consummated. In a country where the slightest steps are expanded to open day, where the feeblest connexions are known from their beginning, and with all the views of ambition, of interest or rivalship, it is almost impossible to escape the eye of such an observer as Thomas Paine, whom no private interest could blind or bewitch, as was said by the clear-sighted Michael Montaigne.
His writings are generally perspicuous and full of light, and often they discover the sardonic and sharp smile of Voltaire. One may see that he wishes to wound to the quick; and that he hugs himself in his success. But Voltaire all at once overruns an immense space and resumes his vehement and dramatic step: Paine stops you, and points to the place where you ought to smile with him at the ingenious traits; a gift to envy and stupidity.
Thomas Paine did not like to be questioned. He used to say, that he thought nothing more impertinent, than to say to any body: “What do you think of that?” On his arrival at New York, he went to see General Gates. After the usual words of salutation, the General said:” I have always had it in mind, if I ever saw you again, to ask you whether you were married, as people have said.” Paine not answering, the General went on: “Tell me how it is.” “I never,” said Paine, “answer impertinent questions.”
Seemingly insensible and hard to himself, he was not so to the just wailings of the unhappy. Without any vehement expression of his sorrow, you might see him calling up all his powers, walking silently, thinking of the best means of consoling the unfortunate applicant; and never did they go from him without some rays of hope. And as his will was firm and settled, his efforts were always successful. The man hardened in vice and in courts [of law], yields more easily than one imagines to the manly entreaties of a disinterested benefactor.
Thomas Paine loved his friends with sincere and tender affection. His simplicity of heart and that happy kind of openness, or rather, carelessness, which charms our hearts in reading the fables of the good Lafontaine, made him extremely amiable. If little children were near him he patted them, searched his pockets for the store of cakes, biscuits, sugarplums, pieces of sugar, of which he used to take possession as of a treasure belonging to them, and the distribution of which belonged to him24. His conversation was unaffectedly simple and frank; his language natural; always abounding in curious anecdotes. He justly and fully seized the characters of all those of whom he related any singular traits. For his conversation was satyrick, instructive, full of witticisms. If he related an anecdote a second time, it was always in the same words and the same tone, like a comic actor who knows the place where he is to be applauded. He neither cut the tale short nor told it too circumstantially. It was real conversation, enlivened by digressions well brought in. The vivacity of his mind, and the numerous scones of which be bad been a spectator, or in which be bad been an actor, rendered his narrations the more animated, his conversation more endearing. His memory was admirable. Politics were his favorite subject. He never spoke on religious subjects, unless pressed to it, and never disputed about such matters. He could not speak French: he could understand it tolerably well when spoken to him, and be understood it when on paper perfectly well. He never went to the theatre: never spoke on dramatic subjects. He rather delighted in ridiculing poetry. He did not like it: he said it was not a serious thing, but a sport of the mind, which often had not common sense. His common reading was the affairs of the day; not a single newspaper escaped him; not a political discussion: he knew how to strike while the iron was hot; and, as he was always on the watch, he was always ready to write. Hence all his pamphlets have been popular and powerful. He wrote with composure and steadiness, as if under the guidance of a tutelary genius. If, for an instant, be stopped, it was always in the attitude of a man who listens. The Saint Jerome of Raphael would give a perfect idea of his contemplative recollection, to listen to the voice from on high which makes itself heard in the heart.
[It will be proper, I believe, to say here, that shortly after the Death of Thomas Paine a book appeared, under the title of: The Life of Thomas Paine, by Cheetham. In this libel my character was calumniated. I cited the Author before the Criminal Court of New York. He was tried and in spite of all his manaeuvres, he was found guilty. – M. B. de Bonneville.].
This last paragraph, in brackets, is in the writing of Madame Bonneville.
I am indebted to Mr. Robert Waters, of Jersey City, a biographer of Cobbett, for the suggestion, made through a friend, and so amply justified, that information concerning Paine might be derived from the Cobbett papers.
The bracketed words, Madame Bonneville's, are on a separate slip.
An opening paragraph by Cobbett is crossed out by her pen: “The early years of the life of a Great Man are of little consequence to the world. Whether Paine made stays or gauged barrels before he became a public character, is of no more importance to us than whether he was swaddled with woollen or with linen. It is the man, in conjunction with those labours which have produced so much effect in the world, whom we are to follow and contemplate. Nevertheless, since many pretended histories of the life of Paine have been published, etc.”
The dates given by Cobbett from contemporary histories require
revision, by the light of the careful researches made by myself and others, as given at the beginning of this biography.
From Crisis VII, dated Philadelphia, November 21, 1778. in
Cobbett’s MS. the extract is only indicated.
This and the preceding letter supplied by the author.
Not found. Referred to in this work, Conway "The Life of Thomas
Paine”, vol. i., p.200.
Both missing. Possibly the second should be to Danton. See
Conway “The Life of Thomas Paine,” ii, p.53.
See Conway "The Life of Thomas Paine," ii., p.37 seq., of this
This is the bitter letter of which when it appeared Cobbett had
written such a scathing review.
The letter telling him of the allegations made by some against his
The words “which will find a place in the Appendix” are here crossed out by Madame Bonneville. See Conway, “The Life of Thomas Paine,” ii., p.258 concerning Jourdan.
This paragraph is in the writing of Madame Bonneville. “B. B.” means Bonaparte, and seems to be some cipher. All of the pieces by Paine mentioned are missing; also that addressed “To the Directory,” for the answer to which see p. 296 of this volume (ii) of Conway’s “The Life of Thomas Paine.”
The following words are here crossed out: “Also several pieces of poetry, which will be published hereafter, with his miscellaneous prose.”
See Conway “The Life of Thomas Paine,”, p.343 of this volume (ii). Several paragraphs here are in the writing of J. P. Cobbett, then with his father in New York.
This letter is entirely in the writing of Madame Bonneville. Beneath it is written: “The above is a true copy of the original; I have compared the two together.– James P. Cobbett.” The allusion to Champagny is either a slip of Madame’s pen or Paine’s memory. The minister who wrote him (p.450) about his bridge was Chaptal. See Conway “The Life of Thomas Paine,” ii., p.296. The names in the last paragraph show what an attractive literary circle Paine had left in France, for a country unable to appreciate him.
“Are as follows” in Madame B.’s writing, after striking out Cobbett’s words, “will be found in the Appendix.” The documents and letters are not given, but they are well known. See Conway “The Life of Thomas Paine,” ii., p.405.
Paine’s Will appoints Thomas Addis Emmet, Walter Morton (with $200 each), and Madame Bonneville executors; gives a small bequest to the widow of Elihu Palmer, and a considerable one to Rickman of London, who was to (p.452) divide with Nicholas Bonneville proceeds of the sale of the North part of his farm. To Madame Bonneville went his manuscripts, movable effects, stock in the N. Y. Phoenix Insurance Company estimated at $1500, and money in hand. The South part of the New Rochelle farm, over 100 acres, were given Madame Bonneville in trust for her children, Benjamin and Thomas, “their education and maintenance, until they come to the age of twenty-one years, in order that she may bring them well up, give them good and useful learning, and instruct them in their duty to God, and the practice of morality.” At majority they were to share and share alike in fee simple. He desires to be buried in the Quaker ground, – “my father belonged to that profession, and I was partly brought up in it,” – but if this is not permitted, to be buried on his farm. “The place where I am to be buried to be a square of twelve feet, to be enclosed with rows of trees, and a stone or post and railed fence, with a head-stone with my name and age engraved upon it, author of”Common Sense.” He confides Mrs. Bonneville and her children to the care of Emmet and Morton. “Thus placing confidence in their friendship, I herewith take my final leave of them and of the world. I have lived an honest and useful life to mankind; my time has been spent in doing good; and I die in perfect composure and resignation to the will of my Creator God.” The Will, dated January 18, 1809, opens with the words, “The last Will and Testament of me, the subscriber, Thomas Paine, reposing confidence in my Creator God, and in no other being, for I know of no other, and I believe in no other.” Mrs. Paine had died July 27th, 1808.
Mr. William Fayel, to whom I am indebted for much information concerning the Bonnevilles in St. Louis, writes me that so little is known of Paine’s benefactions, that “an ex-senator of the United States recently asserted that Gen. Bonneville was brought over by Jefferson and a French lady; and a French lady, who was intimate with the Bonnevilles, assured me that General Bonneville was sent to West Point by Lafayette.”
The sentence thus far is struck out by Madame Bonneville.
Cobbett’s words erased: “and Paine could no longer bear the sight of him.”
The breaking of the original gravestone has been traditionally ascribed to pious hatred. A fragment of it, now in New York, is sometimes shown at celebrations of Paine’s birthday as a witness of the ferocity vented on Paine’s grave. it is satisfactory to find another interpretation.
Paine’s friends, as we have said, were too poor to leave their work in the city, which had refused Paine a grave. The Rev. Robert Bolton, in his History of Westchester County, introduces Cheetham’s slanders of Paine with the words: “as his own biographer remarks.” His own! But even Cheetham does not lie enough for Bolton, who says, “His [Paine’s] body was brought up from New York in a hearse used for carrying the dead to Potter’s Field; a white man drove the vehicle, accompanied by a negro to dig the grave.” The whole Judas legend is in that allusion to Potter’s Field. Such is history, where Paine is concerned!
All except the first two MSS., of which fragments exist, and some poems, were no doubt consumed at St. Louis, as stated in the Introduction to this work.
I have vainly searched in Philadelphia for some relic of Paine’s bridges.
Bracketed words marked out. In this paragraph and some that follow the hand of Nicolas Bonneville is, I think, discernible.
At this point are the words Barlow’s letter [i. e. to Cheetham] we agreed to suppress.”