The Life of Thomas Paine, Interspersed with Remarks and Reflections - Part 3
What remarks I have to make here, I shall preface by an extract from Swift’s excellent work, lately published, on the laws of Connecticut, book V. chap. vii. Speaking of Paine’s baseness in his attack on Christianity by publishing his Age of Reason Mr. Swift observes:
This work is said to be written by Thomas Paine, secretary for foreign affairs to Congress in the American war. Now, the truth is, that during some period of the American war, Congress appointed a committee for foreign affairs, to which Paine was secretary, but he had no power, and performed no duty, but that of clerk to the committee; without any portion of the authority afterwards annexed to the office of secretary for foreign affairs. From the post of secretary to the committee for foreign affairs, he was dismissed for a scandalous breach of trust. What must we think of a man who is capable of such a pitiful artifice to gratify his vanity, and render himself important?
These are not the words of an Englishman, but of a native American, a learned and elegant writer, and a tried friend and servant of his country.
The account given by Mr. Swift of Tom’s dismission confirms that which is given of it in his life. Both accounts, however, are silent as to the nature of the intrigues which he divulged. As I have heard this marter often spoken of by my old bookseller and others, I will just repeat what I have heard, without pledging myself for the truth of it.