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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.

OF THE

LIFE OF THOMAS PAINE,

whose potent pen dispelled the mists of prejudice, and elec trified our country with the love of independence; and was the earliest, the most faithful, and able advocate of the superiority and purity of the republican system of govern“. ment, must labour under the dominion of the most narrow and pernicious prejudices, must be a stranger to the love of liberty, and unacquainted with all the finer sensibilities of our nature.

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THOMAS PAINE was born at Thetford, a considerable country town, in Norfolk County, England. The time of his birth, is stated by the best authorities, to have been in January, 1737. His father was a respectable mechanic, and belonged to the denomination that is usually styled friends or quakers. His mother was the daughter of a country attorney, and professed the episcopalian religion.

His father being in moderate circumstances, with regard to property, his advantages for an early education were scanty, and limited to what is usually called a common school education. This he obtained at a free school at Thetford, his native town. At an early period of life, his mind disclosed a powerful thirst for knowledge, particularly for astronomical studies; he had likewise a turn for poetry, but before he had time to make much improvement, or his faculties had scarcely an opportunity to develope themselves, he was hurried from school at the early age of thirteen, with a view to be instructed in the mechanical occupation of his father, who followed the business of stay making. In this situation he continued, until he was more than sixteen years of age, when, either from disgust with his father's business,

or from an ardent desire to see the world, a passion very common to lads of genius during their early youth, he left his father's house and became an adventurer in the world. Whether he left his father's employment with his consent, or in a clandestine manner, cannot now be ascertained; but there are many reasons to suppose that he left home with the consent of his father.

Young Paine, as is the case with most of the adventurers in England, visited London in his route, where he worked some time as a journeyman staymaker. On leaving London, he visited Dover, with a view to engage in the sca-faring business, having for some time had a strong predilection to try his fortune at sea. This course, he was, however, at this time dissuaded from following, by the timely remonstrance of his father. Sometime afterwards, however, he engaged in a short cruise on board of a privateer, which probably cured him entirely of his romantic desires for a sea-faring life. In the year 1759, he settled in Sandwich as a staymaker. In this situation he continued until the year 1761, when he was appointed to a subaltern office in the excise. He obtained this appointment through the influence of his friends at Thetford, his native town.

The Recorder of Thetford, particularly, it is said, generously aided him in procuring his appointment, an incontrovertible evidence of his early good character at home, where he was best known. Paine continued to discharge the duties of his office until 1774, with the exception of a suspension of about one year, during which period he was engaged as an usher in a school. Whatóver was the cause of Paine's suspension from his office, it appears that the government on inquiry were satisfied with his conduct, and he was promptly restored.

Paine's residence for the most part of the time he held the office of exciseman, was at Lewes, a small town near

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