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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


184 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. No. CCXXXIV. MR: THOMAS PAINE, SECRETARY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO THE AMERICAN CONGRESS. THIS Portrait of the Author of the “ Rights of Man ”-whose life and writings are so well known-was taken from a miniature painted in America, and sent home to the artist by a friend. Kay had a brother, we believe, and several other relatives in America. : The Print appears to have been done in 1’194, about two years subsequent to the publication of his celebrated reply to Burke’s attack on the French Revolution. Paine had previously incurred much obloquy by his work entitled ‘‘ Common Sense,” and the part which he took in the struggle for independence in America. His vindication of the French Revolution, and the democratic principles advocated in the “ Rights of Man,’’ rendered him still more obnoxious to the British Government. The talent displayed in his writings-the novel and dangerous doctrines promulgated-and above all, the prohibitory measures resorted to, in order to suppress his works, tended to blazon the name of ‘‘ Tom Paine,” and to give him a notoriety which has seldom fallen to the share of any individual. In the full tide of his publicity, Kay would no doubt find the sale of an author’s effigy, whose works were prohibited, a very profitable speculation? It is creditable to the memory of Paine, that, on the trial of Louis XVI., he did not vote for the death of the King, but for his provisional confinement, and expulsion after the war. He appeared at the Tribune, and being totally unacquainted with the French language, a translation of his opinion was read. In substance it stated, “ that he preferred an error occasioned by humanity, to an error occasioned by severity. The news of this execution will give great pain to the sons 6f freedom. You ought not to adopt such rigorous measures. Had he (Louis) been the son of a farmer, I am certain he would not have been a bad man.” He concluded by voting “that he should be banished to the American States.” ‘‘ The Age of Reason,” in which the author stood forward as the awmd champion of infidelity, and which drew forth a reply from the Bishop of Landaff, was written while immured in a French prison. The circumstance of Cobbett bringing home his bones to England will be in the recollection of almost every one. Paine died in America, on the 8th June 1809. At a sale by public auction, previous to the copperplate falling into the hands of the late publisher, a single Print of Thomas Paine brought fourteen shillings.
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Volume 9 Page 247
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