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“ with which they were threatened. The un“ known author, in the moments of enthusiasm “ which succeeded, was an angel sent from “ heaven to save from all the horrors of slavery
by his timely, powerful, and unerring councils,
a faithful but abused, a brave but misrepre“ sented people.” — Cheetham's Life of Paine.*
• Common Sense,' it appears, was universally read and approved: the first edition sold almost immediately, and the second with very large additions was before the public soon after. On this production and some others, and his motives for writing, Mr. Paine thus remarks:
When ‘Common Sense' arrived at Albany the Convention of New York was in session: General Scott, a leading member, alarmed at the boldness and novelty of its arguments, mentioned his fears to several of his distinguished colleagues, and suggested a private meeting in the evening for the purpose of writing an answer. They accordingly met, and Mr. M‘Kesson read the pamphlet thro.
At first it was deemed both necessary and expedient to answer it immediately, but casting about for the necessary arguments they concluded to adjourn and meet again. In a few evenings they assembled, but so rapid was the change of opinion in the colonies at large in favour of independence, that they ultimately agreed not to oppose it.
" Politics and self interest have been so “ uniformly connected that the world from be
ing so often deceived has a right to be suspi“ cious of public characters. But with regard " to myself I am perfectly easy on this head. “ I did not at my first setting out in pub“ lic life, nearly seventeen years ago, turn my
thoughts to subjects of government from mo" tives of interest; and my conduct from that “ moment to this proves the fact. I saw an
opportunity in which I thought I could do
some good, and I followed exactly what my " heart dictated : I neither read books, nor " studied other people's opinions—I thought for
myself. The case was this:
During the suspension of the old government in America, both prior to and “ at the breaking out of hostilities, I was "struck with the order and decorum with “ which every thing was conducted, and im“ prest with the idea that a little more than “ what society naturally performed was all the
government that was necessary. On these principles I published the pamphlet Common Sense,
“ The success it met with was beyond any “ thing since the invention of printing. I
gave the copyright up to every state in the “ Union, and the demand run to not less than “ one hundred thousand copies, and I conti“ nued the subject under the title of American
Crisis,' till the complete establishment of the “ American revolution."
Further he says,
" It was the cause of Ame« rica that made me an author. The force “ with which it struck my mind made it “ impossible for me, feeling as I did, to be
silent; and if in the course of seven years “ I have rendered her any service, I have " added likewise something to the reputation “ of literature by freely and disinterestedly
employing it in the service of mankind, and
showing there may be genius without pros"titution.”
Owing to this disinterested conduct of Mr. Paine, it appears that tho the sale of Common Sense' was so great, he was in debt to the printer £29. 12s. 1d. This liberality and conscientious discharge of his duty with respect to his serviceable writings, as he called them, he adopted thro life.
“ When I bring out my “ poetical and anecdotical works," he would often say to me,
« which will be little better “ than amusing, I shall sell them; but I must “ have no gain in view, must make no traffic of
my political and theological writings: they
are with me matter of principle, and not “ matter of money: I cannot desire to derive “ benefit from them, or make them the sub
ject to attain it.”
And twenty-seven years after the publication of Common Sense,' he thus writes to a friend. " As the French revolution advanced “ it fixed the attention of the world, and drew " from the pen of Edmund Burke a furious attack; “this brought me once more on the public the"atre of public politics, and occasioned my
writing a work that had the greatest run of
any ever published in the English language. “The principles in it were the same as those in
my former one. As to myself I acted in both « cases alike.
“I relinquished to the people of England
" all profit, as I had done to those of America, " from the work; my reward existed in the am“ bition of doing good, and in the independent . happiness of my own mind. In my publica“ tions I follow the rule I began, that is to “ consult with nobody, nor let any body see “ what I write till it appears publicly';* were I “ to do otherwise the case would be that be
* A ridiculous notion has been often broached, that Mr. Paine wrote not the works attributed to him; or if he did, that he was greatly assisted: this silly stuff has been generally urged by his opponents, as if, even supposing it was so, it invalidated their matter, or in any way rendered them less true: the contrary is the fact. Mr. Paine was so tenacious on this subject that he would not alter a line or word, at the suggestion even of a friend.
I remembeř when he read me his letter to Dundas in 1792, I objected to the pun, Madjesty, as beneath him ; “Never mind," he said, "they say Mad Tom of me, so I shall let it stand Madjesty." I say not that his tenacity on this subject was not absurd ; but it affords the fullest contradiction to the opinion, that he ever had the least aid or assistance in his writings, or suffered the smallest alteration to be made in them by others.
If the reader will refer to the period in which Mr. Paine made use of this pun he will find that it could not have any allusion to the king's melancholy infirmity — he was one of the last men in the world to be guilty of any thing of the kind; nor can it be supposed it is now brought forward but for the reason stated.