by Trevor W. McKeown.
The last words of Thomas Paine were not: "I would give worlds if I had them, that the Age of Reason had never been published. O, Lord, help me! Christ, help me! No, don't leave; stay with me! Send even a child to stay with me; for I am on the edge of Hell here alone. If ever the Devil had an agent, I have been that one."
The story that Thomas Paine recanted was first presented by Mary Hinsdale née Roscoe, a servant in the family of Mr. Willet Hicks who, when interviewed by Gilbert Vale, author of "The Life of Paine" (1841), reported that she had had no opportunity to have ever spoken wih Paine.
Dr. Moncure D. Conway, auuthor of "The Life of Thomas Paine" (1892)) says: "His unwillingness to be left alone, ascribed to superstitious terror, was due to efforts to get a recantation from him, so determined that he dare not be without witnesses. He had foreseen this. While living with Jarvis, two years before, he desired him to bear witness that he maintained his theistic convictions to the last. ... When he knew that his illness was mortal he solemnly reaffirmed these opinions in the presence of Madame Bonneville, Dr. Romaine, Mr. Haskin, Captain Pelton, and Thomas Nixon." (Life of Paine, Vol. ii, p. 414.)
Witnessed by Amasa Woodsworth, and reported by Dr. Philip Graves, Dr. Manley asked Paine: "do you wish to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? After a pause of some minutes, Paine replied, 'I have no wish to believe on that subject.'"
Thomas Nixon and Capt. Daniel Pelton, who attended Paine during his last sickness, wrote, signed and sent the following statement to William Cobbett: "All you have heard of his recanting is false."
Paine's executors, Walter Morton and Thomas Addis Emmet, both attended Paine and both testified that no change took place in his opinions. Mr. Morton, who was present when he expired, says: "In his religious opinions, he continued to the last as steadfast and tenacious as any sectarian to the definition of his own creed."
There are twenty death-bed witnesses, Madame Bonneville, Dr. Romaine, Dr. Manley, Rev. Cunningham, Rev. Milledollar, Mr. Pigott, Mrs. Redden, Willet Hicks, Mrs. Cheeseman, Amasa Woodsworth, Thomas Nixon, Captain Pelton, Walter Morton, Thomas Addis Emmet, Mrs. Few, Albert Gallatin, Mr. Jarvis, B.F. Haskin, Colonel Fellows, and Judge Hertell, many of them Christians, all affirming or admitting that Thomas Paine did not recant.