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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 bcgloomed 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 genins, 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 my 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.
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 whom death has deprived me, and from whom other severe ills have separated me. The manuscript, on these and many other accounts, awakens " busy meddling Memory," and tortures me with painful remembrances; and save that it is a duty I owe to the public and to the memory and character of a valued friend, I should not have set about its arrangement.
My heart is not in it. There are literary productions, which like some children, tho disagreeable to every body else, are still favorites with the parent: this offspring of mine is not of this sort, it hath no such affection.
Thus surrounded, and every way broken in upon by the most painful and harrassing circumstances, I claim the reader's candour; and I now literally force myself to the publication of Mr. Paine's Life, lest it should again be improperly done, or not be done at all, and the knowledge of so great and good a man be thereby lost to the world.
The engraving of Mr. Paine, by Mr. Sharp, prefixt to this work is the only true likeness of him; it is from his portrait by Romney, and is perhaps the greatest likeness ever taken by any painter: to that eminent artist I introduced him in 1792, and it was by my earnest persuasion that he sat to him.*
• The large proofs of Mr. Paine sell at one guinea, and the large prints at balf-a-guinea, to be had of the
Mr. Paine in his person was about five feet ten inches high; and rather athletic; he was broad shouldered, and latterly stooped a little.
His eye, of which the painter could not convey the exquisite meaning, was full, brilliant, and singularly piercing; it had in it the "muse of fire." In his dress and person he was generally very cleanly, and wore his hair cued, with side curls, and powdered, so that he looked altogether like a gentleman of the old French school.
His manners were easy and gracious; his knowledge was universal and boundless; in private company, and among friends his conversation had every fascination that anecdote, novelty and truth could give it. In mixt company and among strangers he said little, and was no public speaker.
Thus much is said of him in general, and in this place, that the reader may the better bear us company in his Life.
publisher. The small ones, proofs at three and sixpence; and prints, at two and sixpence.