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was committing, to persist in publishing this abominable trash.* He had the hardihood even to apply to William Cobbett for the purpose of inducing him to insert it in the life of Thomas Paine, which Mr. Cobbett then contemplated to write. For which he received due chastisement from the pen of that distinguished writer, in a number of his register. I am told that Mr. Cobbett subsequently, having taken great pains to investigate the falsity of this story, exposed and refuted it in the most ample manner, in his Evening Post. This I have not seen, nor is the Register, containing the article alluded to, before me. Mrs. Bonneville was absent in France at the time of its first appearance in New-York, and when shown to her on her return to Ameri. ca, although her feelings were highly agitated at the baseness of the fabrication, sho would not permit her name to appear in print in competition with that of Mary Hinsdale. No notive therefore has been taken of it, excepting by Mr. Cobbett. Indeed it was considered by the friends of Mr. Paine generally to be too contemptible to controvert. But as many pious people continue to believe, or pretend to believe in this stupid story, it was thought proper to say a few words upon it in this publication.
The facts are as follows :-Mary Hinsdale was hired at service in the family of Mr. Willet Hicks, residing at Greenwich Village, in the neighbourhood of Mr. Paine, who occasionally sent some little delicacies to him in the time of his sickness, as every good neighbour would do; and this woman was the bearer. Here is the whole foundation upon which the distorted imagination of Mary Hinsdale, or some one for her, has raised this diabolical fiction. Mr. Hicks was in the habit of seeing Mr. Paine frequently, and must have known if such a wonderful revolution had taken place in his mind, as is stated, and he does not hesitate to say, that the whole account is a pious fraud. Mr. Hicks is a respectable merchant at New-York, and any one there, who has any doubts on the subject, by calling on him will be satisfied. Even James Cheecham, the libeller of Mr. Paine, acknowledges that he died in the religious faith which he had inculcated in his writings. Which is also attested by his physician, Dr. Manley, and all those who visited him in his last illness. But to put this matter beyond all cavil, I shall add the certificate of two old and highly respectable citizens, Thomas Nixon of New York, and Capt. Daniel Pelton of New Rochelle. It was addressed to William Cobbett, under an expectation that he was about to write the life of Thomas Paine, and left with a friend to be handed to him ; but as the undertaking was relinquished, it was never delivered, and is now in my possession, in the band writing of the signers; and is as follows :
TO MR. WILLIAM COBBETT.
SIR-Having been informed, that you have a design to write a history of the lifo and writings of Thoinas Paine, if you have been furnished with materials in respect to his religious opinions, or rather of his recantation of his former opinions before his death, all you may have heard of his recanting is false. Being aware that such reports would be raised after his death by fanacticks which infested his house at the time it was expected he would die, we, the subscribers, intimate acquaintances of Thomas Paine, since the year 1776, went to his house he was sitting up in a chair, and apparently in the full vigor and use of all his mental faculties. We interrogated him on his religious opinions, and if he had changed his mind or repented of any thing he had said or wrote on that subject. He answered, “ not at all," and appeared rather offended at our supposition that any change should take place in his mind. We took down in writing the questions put to him, and his answers thereto, before a nuinber of persons then in his room, amongst which was his Doctor, Mrs. Bonneville, &c. This paper is mislaid and cannot be found at present, but the above is the substance, which can be attested by many living witnesses.
DANIEL PELTON. New-York, April 24th, 1818. * Since writing the above, it has been suggested to me, by a gentleman wao knows him, that this base act of Collins is attributable more to his actual stupidity than either his fanaticism or malice. That he is too weak to be aware of the sin of slander; and has no doubt, in this case, been made use of, as a mere puppet, by others behind the scene, more knowing and more wicked than hinself
. If this be the fact, it is charity to state it to the public, as his case will tend to excite pity, and depreciate, in some measure, the enormily of his guilt in this transaction.
The questions and answers, alluded to in this certificate, are wanting to render it complete, but the intention of it is forcibly conveyed, that is, that no change had taken place in the mind of Mr. Paine. And the world may rest assured that he died as be had lived, like a philosopher, in the belief of ONE GOD, and in the hope of inMORTALITY in another life.
As to his pecuniary circumstances, he was possessed at his death, of a farm, which had been sold by him some years before for $10,000, but the purchaser dying, his family induced Mr. P. to receive it back. He had $1,500 in cash on band, or in convertible insurance stock; and had been paying $30 a week for several weeks before his death, for the board and accommodations of himself, Mrs. Bonneville, and a nurse ; which was regularly paid at the end of each week. This does not look like being in want of the means of subsistence.
In regard to what took place respecting his burial, as it has been incorrectly stas ted, it may not be amiss to remark, that not long before his death, he observed to Mr. Willei Hicks, that as his family belonged to the society of Quakers, and as he had been educated in that persuasion himself, and knew that its members possessed less superstition than other sectarians, he should perfer being interred in their burying ground; but added, as he had been so long separated from them, perhaps there miglit be objections on their part; and, if so, it was of no consequence. Mr. Hicks accordingly made the proposal to the society, which, in reply, suggested the probability that Mr. P's. friends might wish to raise a monument to his memory, which being contrary to their rules, would render it inconvenient to them. On this being commu. nicated to Mr. P. be received it with indifference, and here the matter ended. I take the liberty of again referring to Mr. Hicks for the truth of this statement. It has been falsely said, that a difference of religious opinions was the ground of objection made to Mr. P's. proposition; which, if true, would be a reproach to the Quaker Bocicty, or to any other religious denomination in like case. It is well known, that in bigotted catholic countries, no deist, or protestant (heretic, as the catholics would call him) would be permitted to be buried in any consecrated church ground. But it is to be hoped that no protestant of any denomination would wish to see his sect retrograde so far into religious barbarism as to refuse decent burial to a fellow-mor. tal on account of his religious faith. No such objection has ever been made in NewYork; and the vestry of trinity church are obliged by law to permit, without reward, all strangers, as well as those who are not members of any particular charch or congregation, to be interred in their burying-ground, on pain, in case of refusal, of forfeiting their charter.
Attempts have been made to injure the character of Mr. Paine, by impugning that of Mrs. Bonneville. James Cheetham, for this offence, after a long and rigid investigation in a court of justice, was mulct in the sum of £100, and obliged to expunge the obnoxious passage from his infamous book. As the connection of Mr. P. with the Bonneville family is not generally known, it is proper to observe, that he resided with Mr. B. at Paris, as his friend and guest for the space of six years. Bonneville was the editor of a public paper during the revolution of France, and on the elevation of Bonaparte to power, refused to approbate the measure, and wrote against it. In this he was probably advised and aided by Mr. P. The consequence was, that Bonaparte suppressed his paper, which was the cause of great embarrassments to him; and Paine, on going to America, invited Bonneville to follow him with his family, promising to do every thing in his power to aid him. Accordingly, some time after his departure, Bonneville sent his wife and three children, remaining in France himself to settle his affairs. They were received by Mr. Paine with the utmost kindness, and provided for; and at his death he left by his will to Bonneville and his children, the greatest portion of his property; thereby paying a debt of gratitude with
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
I PUT the following work under your protection. It contains my opinion upon Religion. You will do me the justice to remember, that I have always strenuously supported the Right of every Man to his opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.
The most formidable weapon, against errors of every kind, is Reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall. Your affectionate friend and fellow-citizen,
Luxembourg, (Paris,) 8th Pluvioise,
January 27, 0. S. 1794.