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The two following letters are so explanatory of the reasons why the publication of the life of Mr. PAINE has been so long delayed, and are 80 well calculated to excite the candour of the reader towards the work, that no apology is offered for making them a part of the preface. “ To the Editor of the Universal Magasine.
[November, 1811] ON MR. CLIO RICKMAN'S SUPPOSED UNDERTAKING OF THE LIFE OP
“THOMAS PAINE, “Sir,-The public has been, within the last year or two, led to ex. pect a Life of the celebrated THOMAS PAINE, from the pen of Mr. · Clio RICKMAN, well known, on various accounts, to be more thoroughly qualified for that task than any other person in this country.
“ This information, however, I repeat as I received it, uncertain whether it came abroad in any authenticated shape; and can only add, that no doubt need be entertained of sufficient attention from the public, in times like the present, to a well-written life of that extraordinary character, whose principles and precepts are at this moment in full operation over the largest and richest portion of the habitable globe, ånd which in regular process of time may, from the efficacious influence of the glorious principles of freedom, become the grand theatre of civilisation.
“ I have often desired to make a communication of this kind to your Magazine, but am particularly impelled thereto at this moment, from observing in some periodical publications devoted to political and religious bigotry, a sample of their usual sophistical accounts of the last moments of men who have been in life eminent for the independence and freedom of their opinions; but the whole that the bigot to whom I allude has been able to effect in the case of Mr. Paine, amounts to an acknowledgment that the philosopher died stedfast to those opinions of religion in which he had lived; and the disappointment is plain enough to be seen, that similar forgeries could not, with any prospect of success, be circulated concerning Paine's tergiversation and deathbed conversion, which were so greedily swallowed for a length of time by the gulls of fanaticism respecting Voltaire, D'Alembert, and others, until the Monthly Review, in the real spirit of philosophy, dispelled the imposition.
“ The late Life of Thomas Paine by Cheetham, of New York, gave
rise to the above Magazine article. Cheetham, humph! Now should it not rather be spelled CHEAT 'EM, (as 'applicable to every reader of that farrago of imposition and malignity, miscalled the Life of Paine ?
“ Probably it may be but a travelling name in order to set another book a-travelling, for the purpose of scaridalising and maligning the reputation of a defunct public man, instead of the far more difficult task of confuting his principles.
“ Nothing can be more in course than this conjecture, authorised indeed by the following fact, with which I believe the public is, to this day, unacquainted; namely, that Mr. Chalmers publicly at a dinner acknowledged himself the author of that very silly and insipid catchpenny, formerly sent abroad under the misnomer of a Life of Thomas Paine, by F. Oldys, of América."
“ The chief view of this application is to ascertain whether or not Mr. Rickman really intends to undertake the work in question.
“I am, Sir, &c., &c.,
“ POLITICUS." Universal Magazine, December, 1811.
MR. CLIO RICKMAN'S REPLY TO POLITICUS. “Sir,- If you had done me the favour of a call, I would readily have satisfied all your inquiries about the Life of Mr. Paine.
“ It is true I had the memoirs of that truly wise and good man in a great state of forwardness about a year ago; but a series of the most severe and dreadful family distresses since that time have rendered me incapable of completing them.
Though an entire stranger to me (for I have not the least idea from whom the letter I am replying to came), I feel obliged to you
the liberal opinion therein expressed of me and of my fitness for the work.
“I have taken great pains that the life of my friend should be given to the world as the subject merits; and a few weeks, whenever I can sit down to it, will complete it.
· Unhappily, Cheetham is the real name of a real apostate. He lived, when Mr. Paine was my inmate in 1792, at Manchester, and was a violent and furious idolator of his.
“ That Mr. Paine died in the full conviction of the truth of the principles he held when, living I shall fully prove, and should have answered the contemptible trash about his death, so industriously circulated, but that the whole account exhibited on the face of it fanatical fraud; and it was pushed forward in a mode and manner so ridiculous and glaringly absurd, as to carry with it its own antidote.
“Such Christians would be much better employed in mending their own lives, and shewing in them an example of good manners and morals, than in calumniating the characters and in detailing silly stories of the deaths of those Deists who have infinitely outstripped them in their journey through life, in every talent and virtue, and in diffusing information and happiness among their fellow men.
“I again beg the favour of a call, as the circumstances attached to the query of yours, and the delays and hindrances, which are of a family and distressing nature, to the publication of Mr. Paine's life, are better adapted for private than public discussion. “ I am, Sir, your obedient Servant,
“ CLIO RICKMAN."
It may not be necessary for me to premise anything further than to say, that I affect not to rank with literary men, nor, as they rise, do I wish it; that authorship is neither my profession nor pursuit; and that, except in an undeviating attention to truth, and a better acquaintance with Mr. Paine and his life than any other man, I am perhaps the most unfit to arrange it for the public eye.
What I have hitherto written and published has arisen out of the moment, has been composed on the spur of the occasion, inspired by the scenery and circumstances around me, and produced abroad and at home, amid innumerable vicissitudes, the hurry of travel, business, pleasure, and during a life singularly active, eventful, and chequered. .
Latterly, too, that life has been begloomed by a train of ills which have trodden on each other's heel, and which, added to the loss of my inspirer, my guide, my genius, and my muse; of her, the most highly qualified and best able to assist me, have rendered the work peculiarly irksome and oppressive.
In the year 1802, on any journey from France, I had the misfortune to lose my desk of papers—a loss I have never lamented more than on the present occasion. Among these were Mr. Paine's letters to me, particularly those from France in the most interesting years to Europe 1792, 1793. Not a scrap of these, together with some of his poetry, could I ever recover.-By this misfortune the reader will lose much entertaining and valuable matter.
1819. These memoirs have remained untouched from 1811 till now, and have not received any addition of biographical matter since. They were written by that part of my family who were at hand, as I dictated them; by those loved beings of whoai death has deprived we,