Paine was a member of the radical dissident group around Johnson, also including Godwin, Wollstonecraft, Blake, Price, Priestley and Franklin (who encouraged his first visit to America). Priestley’s and Paine’s fortunes were intertwined, both being burned in effigy in England and ending as eminent yet half-forgotten refugees in America, former members of Jefferson’s intellectual circle. Paine left Godwin and others to see his ‘Rights of Man’ published while on Blake’s advice he fled to France. Condorcet was among his French ‘philosophe’ friends. Paine met Fulton in Paris, and gave a model of his iron bridge design to Peale.
Herwegh befriended Feuerbach around the same time that he worked for a newspaper published by Marx, though he only became friends with Marx later in Köln and in Paris. In Paris (Herwegh was regularly forced into exile) he also met Sand, Hugo, Lamartine (whose work he translated), and the Germans Hess and Vogt; and during a later stay Turgenev and Herzen (whose wife he had a passionate if doomed affair with.) In Zürich, his house was a meeting-place for the likes of Wagner and Liszt; significantly, he introduced Wagner to Schopenhauer’s writings. Heine called him the Iron Lark of the German Revolution.
His father Johann Reinhold Forster was invited to join Cook’s second Pacific expedition, with the 18-year-old Georg accompanying as draughtsman. Banks, Goethe, Wieland, Lessing and Herder were all regular correspondents. Forster’s translation of a Sanskrit play influenced Herder and stimulated German indology. He and Lichtenberg edited a literary/scientific journal in Göttingen, where his wife’s father Heyne was an eminent professor. The young Humboldt accompanied him on a journey through the Low Countries and England. He attacked Kant over his views on race, but the two never met.