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William Cobbett's The Life of Thomas Paine: Interspersed with Remarks and Reflections

I roared with laughter reading William Cobbett's malicious (but incredibly satisfying and inspired) evisceration of Thomas Paine. Cobbett's text is, of course, a continuation of Francis Oldys (pseudonym of George Chalmers)'s own <i>Life of Thomas Paine</i>, published four years earlier, in 1793, at the behest of William Pitt's government, which paid him £500 for a hostile biography of the celebrated rake. Chalmers' biography was written to coincide with Paine's <i>The Rights of Man</i> and contains a refutation, so Cobbett mostly quotes the earlier biography and then carries on from where his predecessor left off. The concluding paragraph gives you a flavour as to the tone and style:


How Tom gets a living now, or what brothel he inhabits, I know not, nor does it much signify to any body here or any where else. He has done all the mischief he can in the world, and whether his carcass is at last to be suffered to rot on the earth, or to be dried in the air, is of very little consequence. Whenever or wherever he breathes his last, he will excite neither sorrow nor compassion; no friendly hand will close his eyes, not a groan will be uttered, not a tear will be shed. Like Judas will be remembered by posterity; men will learn to express all that is base, malignant, treacherous, unnatural and blasphemous, by the single monosyllable, PAINE.
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