THE WRITINGS OF THOMAS PAINE
By Thomas Paine
Edited By Moncure Daniel Conway
G. P. Putnam’s Sons
New York London
By G. P. Putnam’s Sons
INTRODUCTION TO THE THIRD VOLUME.
|I.||THE REPUBLICAN PROCLAMATION|
|II.||TO THE AUTHORS OF “LE RÉPUBLICAIN.”|
|III.||TO THE ABBÉ SIÈYES|
|IV.||TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL|
|V.||TO MR. SECRETARY DUNDAS|
|VI.||LETTERS TO ONSLOW CRANLEY|
|VII.||TO THE SHERIFF OF THE COUNTY OF SUSSEX,|
|VIII.||TO MR. SECRETARY DUNDAS|
|IX.||LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE ADDRESSERS ON THE LATE PROCLAMATION|
|X.||ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE OF FRANCE|
|XI.||ANTI-MONARCHAL ESSAY FOR THE USE OF NEW REPUBLICANS|
|XII.||TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, ON THE PROSECUTION AGAINST THE SECOND PART|
|XIII.||ON THE PROPRIETY OF BRINGING LOUIS XVI. TO TRIAL|
|XIV.||REASONS FOR PRESERVING THE LIFE OF LOUIS CAPET,|
|XV.||SHALL LOUIS XVI. HAVE RESPITE?|
|XVI.||DECLARATION OF RIGHTS|
|XVII.||PRIVATE LETTERS TO JEFFERSON|
|XVIII.||LETTER TO DANTON|
|XIX.||A CITIZEN OF AMERICA TO THE CITIZENS OF EUROPE|
|XX.||APPEAL TO THE CONVENTION|
|XXI.||THE MEMORIAL TO MONROE|
|XXII.||LETTER TO GEORGE WASHINGTON|
|XXIV.||DISSERTATION ON FIRST PRINCIPLES OF GOVERNMENT|
|XXV.||THE CONSTITUTION OF 1795|
|XXVI.||THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ENGLISH SYSTEM OF FINANCE|
|XXIX.||THE EIGHTEENTH FRUCTIDOR|
|XXX.||THE RECALL OF MONROE|
|XXXI.||PRIVATE LETTER TO PRESIDENT JEFFERSON|
|XXXII.||PROPOSAL THAT LOUISIANA BE PURCHASED|
|XXXIII.||THOMAS PAINE TO THE CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES,|
|XXXIV.||TO THE FRENCH INHABITANTS OF LOUISIANA|
INTRODUCTION TO THE THIRD VOLUME.
WITH HISTORICAL NOTES AND DOCUMENTS.
In a letter of Lafayette to Washington (“Paris, 12 Jan., 1790”) he writes: “Common Sense is writing for you a brochure where you will see a part of my adventures.” It thus appears that the narrative embodied in the reply to Burke (“Rights of Man,” Part I.), dedicated to Washington, was begun with Lafayette’s collaboration fourteen months before its publication (March 13, 1791).
In another letter of Lafayette to Washington (March 17, 1790) he writes:
“To Mr. Paine, who leaves for London, I entrust the care of sending you my news…. Permit me, my dear General, to offer you a picture representing the Bastille as it was some days after I gave the order for its demolition. I also pay you the homage of sending you the principal Key of that fortress of despotism. It is a tribute I owe as a son to my adoptive father, as aide-de-camp to my General, as a missionary of liberty to his Patriarch.”
The Key was entrusted to Paine, and by him to J. Rut-ledge, Jr., who sailed from London in May. I have found in the manuscript despatches of Louis Otto, Chargé d’ Affaires, several amusing paragraphs, addressed to his govern-ment at Paris, about this Key.
“August 4, 1790. In attending yesterday the public audience of the President, I was surprised by a question from the Chief Magistrate, ‘whether I would like to see the Key of the Bastille?’ One of his secretaries showed me at the same moment a large Key, which had been sent to the President by desire of the Marquis de la Fayette. I dissembled my surprise in observing to the President that ‘the time had not yet come in America to do ironwork equal to that before him.’ The Americans present looked at the key with indifference, and as if wondering why it had been sent But the serene face of the President showed that he regarded it as an homage from the French nation.” “December 13, 1790. The Key of the Bastille, regularly shown at the President’s audiences, is now also on exhibition in Mrs. Washington’s salon, where it satisfies the curiosity of the Philadelphians. I am persuaded, Monseigneur, that it is only their vanity that finds pleasure in the exhibition of this trophy, but Frenchmen here are not the less piqued, and many will not enter the President’s house on this account.”
In sending the key Paine, who saw farther than these distant Frenchmen, wrote to Washington: “That the principles of America opened the Bastille is not to be doubted, and therefore the Key comes to the right place.”
Early in May, 1791 (the exact date is not given), Lafayette writes Washington: “I send you the rather indifferent translation of Mr. Paine as a kind of preservative and to keep me near you.” This was a hasty translation of “Rights of Man,” Part I., by F. Soûles, presently superseded by that of Lanthenas.
The first convert of Paine to pure republicanism in France was Achille Duchâtelet, son of the Duke, and grandson of the authoress,—the friend of Voltaire. It was he and Paine who, after the flight of Louis XVI., placarded Paris with the Proclamation of a Republic, given as the first chapter of this volume. An account of this incident is here quoted from Etienne Dumont’s “Recollections of Mirabeau”:
“The celebrated Paine was at this time in Paris, and intimate in Condorcet’s family. Thinking that he had effected the American Revolution, he fancied himself called upon to bring about one in France. Duchâtelet called on me, and after a little preface placed in my hand an English manuscript—a Proclamation to the French People. It was nothing less than an anti-royalist Manifesto, and summoned the nation to seize the opportunity and establish a Republic. Paine was its author. Duchâtelet had adopted and was resolved to sign, placard the walls of Paris with it, and take the consequences. He had come to request me to translate and develop it. I began discussing the strange proposal, and pointed out the danger of raising a republican standard without concurrence of the National Assembly, and nothing being as yet known of the king’s intentions, resources, alliances, and possibilities of support by the army, and in the provinces. I asked if he had consulted any of the most influential leaders,—Sieves, Lafayette, etc. He had not: he and Paine had acted alone. An American and an impulsive nobleman had put themselves forward to change the whole governmental system of France. Resisting his entreaties, I refused to translate the Proclamation. Next day the republican Proclamation appeared on the walls in every part of Paris, and was denounced to the Assembly. The idea of a Republic had previously presented itself to no one: this first intimation filled with consternation the Right and the moderates of the Left. Malouet, Cazales, and others proposed prosecution of the author, but Chapelier, and a numerous party, fearing to add fuel to the fire instead of extinguishing it, prevented this. But some of the seed sown by the audacious hand of Paine were now budding in leading minds.”
A Republican Club was formed in July, consisting of five members, the others who joined themselves to Paine and Duchâtelet being Condorcet, and probably Lanthenas (translator of Paine’s works), and Nicolas de Bonneville. They advanced so far as to print “Le Républicain,” of which, however, only one number ever appeared. From it is taken the second piece in this volume.
Early in the year 1792 Paine lodged in the house and book-shop of Thomas “Clio” Rickman, now as then 7 Upper Marylebone Street. Among his friends was the mystical artist and poet, William Blake. Paine had become to him a transcendental type; he is one of the Seven who appear in Blake’s “Prophecy” concerning America (1793):
"The Guardian Prince of Albion burns in his nightly tent Sullen fires across the Atlantic glow to America's shore; Piercing the souls of warlike men, who rise in silent night:— Washington, Franklin, Paine, and Warren, Gates, Hancock, and Greene, Meet on the coast glowing with blood from Albion's fiery Prince."
The Seven are wrapt in the flames of their enthusiasm. Albion’s Prince sends to America his thirteen Angels, who, however, there become Governors of the thirteen States. It is difficult to discover from Blake’s mystical visions how much political radicalism was in him, but he certainly saved Paine from the scaffold by forewarning him (September 13, 1792) that an order had been issued for his arrest. Without repeating the story told in Gilchrist’s “Life of Blake,” and in my “Life of Paine,” I may add here my belief that Paine also appears in one of Blake’s pictures. The picture is in the National Gallery (London), and called “The spiritual form of Pitt guiding Behemoth.” The monster jaws of Behemoth are full of struggling men, some of whom stretch imploring hands to another spiritual form, who reaches down from a crescent moon in the sky, as if to rescue them. This face and form appear to me certainly meant for Paine.
Acting on Blake’s warning Paine’s friends got him off to Dover, where, after some trouble, related in a letter to Dundas (see p. 41 of this volume), he reached Calais. He had been elected by four departments to the National Convention, and selected Calais, where he was welcomed with grand civic parades. On September 19, 1792, he arrived in Paris, stopping at “White’s Hotel,” 7 Passage des Pétits Pères, about five minutes’ walk from the Salle de Manége, where, on September 21st, the National Convention opened its sessions. The spot is now indicated by a tablet on the wall of the Tuileries Garden, Rue de Rivoli. On that day Paine was introduced to the Convention by the Abbé Grégoire, and received with acclamation.
The French Minister in London, Chauvelin, had sent to his government (still royalist) a despatch unfavorable to Paine’s work in England, part of which I translate:
“May 23, 1792. An Association [for Parliamentary Reform, see pp. 78, 93, of this volume] has been formed to seek the means of forwarding the demand. It includes some distinguished members of the Commons, and a few peers. The writings of M. Payne which preceded this Association by a few days have done it infinite harm. People suspect under the veil of a reform long demanded by justice and reason an intention to destroy a constitution equally dear to the peers whose privileges it consecrates, to the wealthy whom it protects, and to the entire nation, to which it assures all the liberty desired by a people methodical and slow in character, and who, absorbed in their commercial interests, do not like being perpetually worried about the imbecile George III. or public affairs. Vainly have the friends of reform protested their attachment to the Constitution. Vainly they declare that they desire to demand nothing, to obtain nothing, save in lawful ways. They are persistently disbelieved. Payne alone is seen in all their movements; and this author has not, like Mackintosh, rendered imposing his refutation of Burke. The members of the Association, although very different in principles, find themselves involved in the now almost general disgrace of Payne.”
M. Noël writes from London, November 2, 1792, to the republican Minister, Le Brun, concerning the approaching trial of Paine, which had been fixed for December 18th.
“This matter above all excites the liveliest interest. People desire to know whether they live in a free country, where criticism even of government is a right of every citizen. Whatever may be the decision in this interesting trial, the result can only be fortunate for the cause of liberty. But the government cannot conceal from itself that it is suspended over a volcano. The wild dissipations of the King’s sons add to the discontent, and if something is overlooked in the Prince of Wales, who is loved enough, it is not so with the Duke of York, who has few friends. The latter has so many debts that at this moment the receivers are in his house, and the creditors wish even his bed to be seized. You perceive, Citizen, what a text fruitful in reflexions this conduct presents to a people groaning under the weight of taxes for the support of such whelps (louvetaux).”
Under date of December 22, 1792, M. Noël writes:
“London is perfectly tranquil. The arbitrary measures taken by the government in advance [of Paine’s trial] cause no anxiety to the mass of the nation about its liberties. Some dear-headed people see well that the royal prerogative will gain in this crisis, and that it is dangerous to leave executive power to become arbitrary at pleasure; but this very small number groan in silence, and dare not speak for fear of seeing their property pillaged or burned by what the miserable hirelings of government call ‘Loyal Mob,’ or ‘Church and King Mob.’ To the ‘Addressers,’ of whom I wrote you, are added the associations for maintaining the Constitution they are doing all they can to destroy. There is no corporation, no parish, which is not mustered for this object. All have assembled, one on the other, to press against those whom they call ‘The Republicans and the Levellers,’ the most inquisitorial measures. Among other parishes, one (S. James’ Vestry Room) distinguishes itself by a decree worthy of the sixteenth century. It promises twenty guineas reward to any one who shall denounce those who in conversation or otherwise propagate opinions contrary to the public tranquillity, and places the denouncer under protection of the parish. The inhabitants of London are now placed under a new kind of Test, and those who refuse it will undoubtedly be persecuted. Meantime these papers are carried from house to house to be signed, especially by those lodging as strangers. ThisTest causes murmurs, and some try to evade signature, but the number is few. The example of the capital is generally followed. The trial of Payne, which at one time seemed likely to cause events, has ended in the most peaceful way. Erskine has been borne to his house by people shouting God Save the King! Erskine forever! The friends of liberty generally are much dissatisfied with the way in which he has defended his client. They find that he threw himself into commonplaces which could make his eloquence shine, but guarded himself well from going to the bottom of the question. Vane especially, a distinguished advocate and zealous democrat, is furious against Erskine. It is now for Payne to defend himself. But whatever he does, he will have trouble enough to reverse the opinion. The Jury’s verdict is generally applauded: a mortal blow is dealt to freedom of thought. People sing in the streets, even at midnight, God save the King and damn Tom Payne!” (1)
1 The despatches from which these translations are made are in the Archives of the Department of State at Paris, series marked Angleterre vol. 581.
The student of that period will find some instruction in a collection, now in the British Museum, of coins and medals mostly struck after the trial and outlawry of Paine. A halfpenny, January 21,1793: obverse, a man hanging on a gibbet, with church in the distance; motto “End of Pain”; reverse, open book inscribed “The Wrongs of Man.” A token: bust of Paine, with his name; reverse, “The Mountain in Labour, 1793.” Farthing: Paine gibbeted; reverse, breeches burning, legend, “Pandora’s breeches”; beneath, serpent decapitated by a dagger, the severed head that of Paine. Similar farthing, but reverse, combustibles intermixed with labels issuing from a globe marked “Fraternity”; the labels inscribed “Regicide,” “Robbery,” “Falsity,” “Requisition”; legend, “French Reforms, 1797”; near by, a church with flag, on it a cross. Half-penny without date, but no doubt struck in 1794, when a rumor reached London that Paine had been guillotined: Paine gibbeted; above, devil smoking a pipe; reverse, monkey dancing; legend, “We dance, Paine swings.” Farthing: three men hanging on a gallows; “The three Thomases, 1796.” Reverse, “May the three knaves of Jacobin Clubs never get a trick.” The three Thomases were Thomas Paine, Thomas Muir, and Thomas Spence. In 1794 Spence was imprisoned seven months for publishing some of Paine’s works at his so-called “Hive of Liberty.” Muir, a Scotch lawyer, was banished to Botany Bay for fourteen years for having got up in Edinburgh (1792) a “Convention,” in imitation of that just opened in Paris; two years later he escaped from Botany Bay on an American ship, and found his way to Paine in Paris. Among these coins there are two of opposite character. A farthing represents Pitt on a gibbet, against which rests a ladder; inscription, “End of P [here an eye] T.” Reverse, face of Pitt conjoined with that of the devil, and legend, “Even Fellows.” Another farthing like the last, except an added legend, “Such is the reward of tyrants, 1796.” These anti-Pitt farthings were struck by Thomas Spence.
In the winter of 1792-3 the only Reign of Terror was in England. The Ministry had replied to Paine’s “Rights of Man” by a royal proclamation against seditious literature, surrounding London with militia, and calling a meeting of Parliament (December, 1792) out of season. Even before the trial of Paine his case was prejudged by the royal proclamation, and by the Addresses got up throughout the country in response,—documents which elicited Paine’s Address to the Addressers, chapter IX. in this volume. The Tory gentry employed roughs to burn Paine in effigy throughout the country, and to harry the Nonconformists. Dr. Priestley’s house was gutted. Mr. Fox (December 14, 1792) reminded the House of Commons that all the mobs had “Church and King” for their watchword, no mob having been heard of for “The Rights of Man”; and he vainly appealed to the government to prosecute the dangerous libels against Dissenters as they were prosecuting Paine’s work. Burke, who in the extra session of Parliament for the first time took his seat on the Treasury Bench, was reminded that he had once “exulted at the victories of that rebel Washington,” and welcomed Franklin. “Franklin,” he said, “was a native of America; Paine was born in England, and lived under the protection of our laws; but, instigated by his evil genius, he conspired against the very country which gave him birth, by attempting to introduce the new and pernicious doctrines of republicans.”
In the course of the same harangue, Burke alluded to the English and Irish deputations, then in Paris, which had congratulated the Convention on the defeat of the invaders of the Republic. Among them he named Lord Semphill, John Frost, D. Adams, and “Joel—Joel the Prophet” (Joel Barlow). These men were among those who, towards the close of 1792, formed a sort of Paine Club at “Philadelphia House”—as White’s Hotel was now called. The men gathered around Paine, as the exponent of republican principles, were animated by a passion for liberty which withheld no sacrifice. Some of them threw away wealth and rank as trifles. At a banquet of the Club, at Philadelphia House, November 18, 1792, where Paine presided, Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Sir Robert Smyth, Baronet, formally renounced their titles. Sir Robert proposed the toast, “A speedy abolition of all hereditary titles and feudal distinctions.” Another toast was, “Paine—and the new way of making good books known by a Royal proclamation and a King’s Bench prosecution.”
There was also Franklin’s friend, Benjamin Vaughan, Member of Parliament, who, compromised by an intercepted letter, took refuge in Paris under the name of Jean Martin. Other Englishmen were Rev. Jeremiah Joyce, a Unitarian minister and author (coadjutor of Dr. Gregory in his “Cyclopaedia “); Henry Redhead Yorke, a West Indian with some negro blood (afterwards an agent of Pitt, under whom he had been imprisoned); Robert Merry, husband of the actress “Miss Brunton”; Sayer, Rayment, Macdonald, Perry.
Sampson Perry of London, having attacked the government in his journal, “The Argus,” fled from an indictment, and reached Paris in January, 1793. These men, who for a time formed at Philadelphia House their Parliament of Man, were dashed by swift storms on their several rocks. Sir Robert Smyth was long a prisoner under the Reign of Terror, and died (1802) of the illness thereby contracted. Lord Edward Fitzgerald was slain while trying to kindle a revolution in Ireland. Perry was a prisoner in the Luxembourg, and afterwards in London. John Frost, a lawyer (struck off the roll), ventured back to London, where he was imprisoned six months in Newgate, sitting in the pillory at Charing Cross one hour per day. Robert Merry went to Baltimore, where he died in 1798. Nearly all of these men suffered griefs known only to the “man without a country.”
Sampson Perry, who in 1796 published an interesting “History of the French Revolution,” has left an account of his visit to Paine in January, 1793:
“I breakfasted with Paine about this time at the Philadelphia Hotel, and asked him which province in America he conceived the best calculated for a fugitive to settle in, and, as it were, to begin the world with no other means or pretensions than common sense and common honesty. Whether he saw the occasion and felt the tendency of this question I know not; but he turned it aside by the political news of the day, and added that he was going to dine with Petion, the mayor, and that he knew I should be welcome and be entertained. We went to the mayoralty in a hackney coach, and were seated at a table about which were placed the following persons: Petion, the mayor of Paris, with his female relation who did the honour of the table; Dumourier, the commander-in-chief of the French forces, and one of his aides-de-camp; Santerre, the commandant of the armed force of Paris, and an aide-de-camp; Condorcet; Brissot; Gaudet; Genson-net; Danton; Rersaint; Clavière; Vergniaud; and Syèyes; which, with three other persons, whose names I do not now recollect, and including Paine and myself, made in all nineteen.”
Paine found warm welcome in the home of Achille Du-châtelet, who with him had first proclaimed the Republic, and was now a General. Madame Duchâtelet was an English lady of rank, Charlotte Comyn, and English was fluently spoken in the family. They resided at Auteuil, not far from the Abbé Moulet, who preserved an arm-chair with the inscription, Benjamin Franklin hic sedebat, Paine was a guest of the Duchâtelets soon after he got to work in the Convention, as I have just discovered by a letter addressed “To Citizen Le Brun, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paris.”
“Auteuil, Friday, the 4th December, 1792. I enclose an Irish newspaper which has been sent me from Belfast. It contains the Address of the Society of United Irishmen of Dublin (of which Society I am a member) to the volunteers of Ireland. None of the English newspapers that I have seen have ventured to republish this Address, and as there is no other copy of it than this which I send you, I request you not to let it go out of your possession. Before I received this newspaper I had drawn up a statement of the affairs of Ireland, which I had communicated to my friend General Duchâtelet at Auteuil, where I now am. I wish to confer with you on that subject, but as I do not speak French, and as the matter requires confidence, General Duchâtelet has desired me to say that if you can make it convenient to dine with him and me at Auteuil, he will with pleasure do the office of interpreter. I send this letter by my servant, but as it may not be convenient to you to give an answer directly, I have told him not to wait—Thomas Paine.”
It will be noticed that Paine now keeps his servant, and drives to the Mayor’s dinner in a hackney coach. A portrait painted in Paris about this time, now owned by Mr. Alfred Howlett of Syracuse, N. Y., shows him in elegant costume.
It is mournful to reflect, even at this distance, that only a little later both Paine and his friend General Duchâtelet were prisoners. The latter poisoned himself in prison (1794).
The illustrative notes and documents which it seems best to set before the reader at the outset may here terminate. As in the previous volumes the writings are, as a rule, given in chronological sequence, but an exception is now made in respect of Paine’s religious writings, some of which antedate essays in the present volume. The religious writings are reserved for the fourth and final volume, to which will be added an Appendix containing Paine’s poems, scientific fragments, and several letters of general interest.
I. THE REPUBLICAN PROCLAMATION.(1)
“Brethren and Fellow Citizens:
“The serene tranquillity, the mutual confidence which prevailed amongst us, during the time of the late King’s escape, the indifference with which we beheld him return, are unequivocal proofs that the absence of a King is more desirable than his presence, and that he is not only a political superfluity, but a grievous burden, pressing hard on the whole nation.
“Let us not be imposed on by sophisms; all that concerns this is reduced to four points.
“He has abdicated the throne in having fled from his post. Abdication and desertion are not characterized by the length of absence; but by the single act of flight. In the present instance, the act is everything, and the time nothing.
“The nation can never give back its confidence to a man who, false to his trust, perjured to his oath, conspires a clandestine flight, obtains a fraudulent passport, conceals a King of France under the disguise of a valet, directs his course towards a frontier covered with traitors and deserters, and evidently meditates a return into our country, with a force capable of imposing his own despotic laws.
“Should his flight be considered as his own act, or the act of those who fled with him? Was it a spontaneous resolution of his own, or was it inspired by others? The alternative is immaterial; whether fool or hypocrite, idiot or traitor, he has proved himself equally unworthy of the important functions that had been delegated to him.
1 See Introduction to this volume. This manifesto with which Paris was found placarded on July 1, 1791, is described by Dumont as a "Republican Proclamation," but what its literal caption was I have not found.—Editor.
“In every sense in which the question can be considered, the reciprocal obligation which subsisted between us is dissolved. He holds no longer any authority. We owe him no longer obedience. We see in him no more than an indifferent person; we can regard him only as Louis Capet.
“The history of France presents little else than a long series of public calamity, which takes its source from the vices of Kings; we have been the wretched victims that have never ceased to suffer either for them or by them. The catalogue of their oppressions was complete, but to complete the sum of their crimes, treason was yet wanting. Now the only vacancy is filled up, the dreadful list is full; the system is exhausted; there are no remaining errors for them to commit; their reign is consequently at an end.
“What kind of office must that be in a government which requires for its execution neither experience nor ability, that may be abandoned to the desperate chance of birth, that may be filled by an idiot, a madman, a tyrant, with equal effect as by the good, the virtuous, and the wise? An office of this nature is a mere nonentity; it is a place of show, not of use. Let France then, arrived at the age of reason, no longer be deluded by the sound of words, and let her deliberately examine, if a King, however insignificant and contemptible in himself, may not at the same time be extremely dangerous.
“The thirty millions which it costs to support a King in the eclat of stupid brutal luxury, presents us with an easy method of reducing taxes, which reduction would at once relieve the people, and stop the progress of political corruption. The grandeur of nations consists, not, as Kings pretend, in the splendour of thrones, but in a conspicuous sense of their own dignity, and in a just disdain of those barbarous follies and crimes which, under the sanction of Royalty, have hitherto desolated Europe.
“As to the personal safety of Louis Capet, it is so much the more confirmed, as France will not stoop to degrade herself by a spirit of revenge against a wretch who has dishonoured himself. In defending a just and glorious cause, it is not possible to degrade it, and the universal tranquillity which prevails is an undeniable proof that a free people know how to respect themselves.”
II. TO THE AUTHORS OF “LE RÉPUBLICAIN.”(1)
M. Duchâtelet has mentioned to me the intention of some persons to commence a work under the title of “The Republican.”
As I am a Citizen of a country which knows no other Majesty than that of the People; no other Government than that of the Representative body; no other sovereignty than that of the Laws, and which is attached to France both by alliance and by gratitude, I voluntarily offer you my services in support of principles as honorable to a nation as they are adapted to promote the happiness of mankind. I offer them to you with the more zeal, as I know the moral, literary, and political character of those who are engaged in the undertaking, and find myself honoured in their good opinion.
But I must at the same time observe, that from ignorance of the French language, my works must necessarily undergo a translation; they can of course be of but little utility, and my offering must consist more of wishes than services. I must add, that I am obliged to pass a part of this summer in England and Ireland.
As the public has done me the unmerited favor of recognizing me under the appellation of “Common Sense,” which is my usual signature, I shall continue it in this publication to avoid mistakes, and to prevent my being supposed the author of works not my own. As to my political principles, I shall endeavour, in this letter, to trace their general features in such a manner, as that they cannot be misunderstood.
1 "Le Républicain; ou le Défenseur du gouvernement Représentatif. Par une Société des Républicains. A Paris. July, 1791." See Introduction to this volume.—Editor.
It is desirable in most instances to avoid that which may give even the least suspicion as to the part meant to be adopted, and particularly on the present occasion, where a perfect clearness of expression is necessary to the avoidance of any possible misinterpretation. I am happy, therefore, to find, that the work in question is entitled “The Republican.” This word expresses perfectly the idea which we ought to have of Government in general—Res Publico,—the public affairs of a nation.
As to the word Monarchy, though the address and intrigue of Courts have rendered it familiar, it does not contain the less of reproach or of insult to a nation. The word, in its immediate or original sense, signifies the absolute power of a single individual, who may prove a fool, an hypocrite, or a tyrant. The appellation admits of no other interpretation than that which is here given. France is therefore not a Monarchy; it is insulted when called by that name. The servile spirit which characterizes this species of government is banished from France, and this country, like AMERICA, can now afford to Monarchy no more than a glance of disdain.
Of the errors which monarchic ignorance or knavery has spread through the world, the one which bears the marks of the most dexterous invention, is the opinion that the system of Republicanism is only adapted to a small country, and that a Monarchy is suited, on the contrary, to those of greater extent. Such is the language of Courts, and such the sentiments which they have caused to be adopted in monarchic countries; but the opinion is contrary, at the same time, to principle and to experience.
The Government, to be of real use, should possess a complete knowledge of all the parties, all the circumstances, and all the interests of a nation. The monarchic system, in consequence, instead of being suited to a country of great extent, would be more admissible in a small territory, where an individual may be supposed to know the affairs and the interests of the whole. But when it is attempted to extend this individual knowledge to the affairs of a great country, the capacity of knowing bears no longer any proportion to the extent or multiplicity of the objects which ought to be known, and the government inevitably falls from ignorance into tyranny. For the proof of this position we need only look to Spain, Russia, Germany, Turkey, and the whole of the Eastern Continent,—countries, for the deliverance of which I offer my most sincere wishes.
On the contrary, the true Republican system, by Election and Representation, offers the only means which are known, and, in my opinion, the only means which are possible, of proportioning the wisdom and the information of a Government to the extent of a country.
The system of Representation is the strongest and most powerful center that can be devised for a nation. Its attraction acts so powerfully, that men give it their approbation even without reasoning on the cause; and France, however distant its several parts, finds itself at this moment an whole, in its central Representation. The citizen is assured that his rights are protected, and the soldier feels that he is no longer the slave of a Despot, but that he is become one of the Nation, and interested of course in its defence.
The states at present styled Republican, as Holland, Genoa, Venice, Berne, &c. are not only unworthy the name, but are actually in opposition to every principle of aRepublican government, and the countries submitted to their power are, truly speaking, subject to an Aristocratic slavery!
It is, perhaps, impossible, in the first steps which are made in a Revolution, to avoid all kind of error, in principle or in practice, or in some instances to prevent the combination of both. Before the sense of a nation is sufficiently enlightened, and before men have entered into the habits of a free communication with each other of their natural thoughts, a certain reserve—a timid prudence seizes on the human mind, and prevents it from obtaining its level with that vigor and promptitude that belongs to right.—An example of this influence discovers itself in the commencement of the present Revolution: but happily this discovery has been made before the Constitution was completed, and in time to provide a remedy.
The hereditary succession can never exist as a matter of right; it is a nullity—a nothing. To admit the idea is to regard man as a species of property belonging to some individuals, either born or to be born! It is to consider our descendants, and all posterity, as mere animals without a right or will! It is, in fine, the most base and humiliating idea that ever degraded the human species, and which, for the honor of Humanity, should be destroyed for ever.
The idea of hereditary succession is so contrary to the rights of man, that if we were ourselves to be recalled to existence, instead of being replaced by our posterity, we should not have the right of depriving ourselves beforehand of those rights which would then properly belong to us. On what ground, then, or by what authority, do we dare to deprive of their rights those children who will soon be men? Why are we not struck with the injustice which we perpetrate on our descendants, by endeavouring to transmit them as a vile herd to masters whose vices are all that can be foreseen.
Whenever the French constitution shall be rendered conformable to its Declaration of Rights, we shall then be enabled to give to France, and with justice, the appellation of a civic Empire; for its government will be the empire of laws founded on the great republican principles of Elective Representation, and the Rights of Man.—But Monarchy and Hereditary Succession are incompatible with the basis of its constitution.
I hope that I have at present sufficiently proved to you that I am a good Republican; and I have such a confidence in the truth of the principles, that I doubt not they will soon be as universal in France as in America. The pride of human nature will assist their evidence, will contribute to their establishment, and men will be ashamed of Monarchy.
I am, with respect, Gentlemen, your friend,
Paris, June, 1791.
III. TO THE ABBÉ SIÈYES.(1)
Paris, 8th July, 1791.
At the moment of my departure for England, I read, in the Moniteur of Tuesday last, your letter, in which you give the challenge, on the subject of Government, and offer to defend what is called the Monarchical opinion against the Republican system.
I accept of your challenge with pleasure; and I place such a confidence in the superiority of the Republican system over that nullity of a system, called Monarchy, that I engage not to exceed the extent of fifty pages, and to leave you the liberty of taking as much latitude as you may think proper.
The respect which I bear your moral and literary reputation, will be your security for my candour in the course of this discussion; but, notwithstanding that I shall treat the subject seriously and sincerely, let me promise, that I consider myself at liberty to ridicule, as they deserve, Monarchical absurdities, whensoever the occasion shall present itself.
By Republicanism, I do not understand what the name signifies in Holland, and in some parts of Italy. I understand simply a government by representation—a government founded upon the principles of the Declaration of Rights; principles to which several parts of the French Constitution arise in contradiction. The Declaration of Rights of France and America are but one and the same thing in principles, and almost in expressions; and this is the Republicanism which I undertake to defend against what is called Monarchy and Aristocracy.
1 Written to the Moniteur in reply to a letter of the Abbé (July 8) elicited by Paine's letter to "Le Républicain" (II.). The Abbé now declining a controversy, Paine dealt with his views in "Rights of Man," Part IL, ch. 3.— Editor.
I see with pleasure that in respect to one point we are already agreed; and that is, the extreme danger of a civil list of thirty millions. I can discover no reason why one of the parts of the government should be supported with so extravagant a profusion, whilst the other scarcely receives what is sufficient for its common wants.
This dangerous and dishonourable disproportion at once supplies the one with the means of corrupting, and throws the other into the predicament of being corrupted. In America there is but little difference, with regard to this point, between the legislative and the executive part of our government; but the first is much better attended to than it is in France.
In whatsoever manner, Sir, I may treat the subject of which you have proposed the investigation, I hope that you will not doubt my entertaining for you the highest esteem. I must also add, that I am not the personal enemy of Kings. Quite the contrary. No man more heartily wishes than myself to see them all in the happy and honourable state of private individuals; but I am the avowed, open, and intrepid enemy of what is called Monarchy; and I am such by principles which nothing can either alter or corrupt—by my attachment to humanity; by the anxiety which I feel within myself, for the dignity and the honour of the human race; by the disgust which I experience, when I observe men directed by children, and governed by brutes; by the horror which all the evils that Monarchy has spread over the earth excite within my breast; and by those sentiments which make me shudder at the calamities, the exactions, the wars, and the massacres with which Monarchy has crushed mankind: in short, it is against all the hell of monarchy that I have declared war.
1 To the sixth paragraph of the above letter is appended a footnote: "A deputy to the congress receives about a guinea and a half daily: and provisions are cheaper in America than in France." The American Declaration of Rights referred to unless the Declaration of Independence, was no doubt, especially that of Pennsylvania, which Paine helped to frame.—Editor.
IV. TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.
[Undated, but probably late in May, 1793.]
Though I have some reason for believing that you were not the original promoter or encourager of the prosecution commenced against the work entitled “Rights of Man” either as that prosecution is intended to affect the author, the publisher, or the public; yet as you appear the official person therein, I address this letter to you, not as Sir Archibald Macdonald, but as Attorney General.
You began by a prosecution against the publisher Jordan, and the reason assigned by Mr. Secretary Dundas, in the House of Commons, in the debate on the Proclamation, May 25, for taking that measure, was, he said, because Mr. Paine could not be found, or words to that effect. Mr. Paine, sir, so far from secreting himself, never went a step out of his way, nor in the least instance varied from his usual conduct, to avoid any measure you might choose to adopt with respect to him. It is on the purity of his heart, and the universal utility of the principles and plans which his writings contain, that he rests the issue; and he will not dishonour it by any kind of subterfuge. The apartments which he occupied at the time of writing the work last winter, he has continued to occupy to the present hour, and the solicitors of the prosecution knew where to find him; of which there is a proof in their own office, as far back as the 21st of May, and also in the office of my own Attorney.(1)
1 Paine was residing at the house of one of his publishers, Thomas Rickman, 7 Upper Marylebone Street, London. His Attorney was the Hon. Thomas Erskine.—Editor.
But admitting, for the sake of the case, that the reason for proceeding against the publisher was, as Mr. Dundas stated, that Mr. Paine could not be found, that reason can now exist no longer.
The instant that I was informed that an information was preparing to be filed against me, as the author of, I believe, one of the most useful and benevolent books ever offered to mankind, I directed my Attorney to put in an appearance; and as I shall meet the prosecution fully and fairly, and with a good and upright conscience, I have a right to expect that no act of littleness will be made use of on the part of the prosecution towards influencing the future issue with respect to the author. This expression may, perhaps, appear obscure to you, but I am in the possession of some matters which serve to shew that the action against the publisher is not intended to be a real action. If, therefore, any persons concerned in the prosecution have found their cause so weak, as to make it appear convenient to them to enter into a negociation with the publisher, whether for the purpose of his submitting to a verdict, and to make use of the verdict so obtained as a circumstance, by way of precedent, on a future trial against myself; or for any other purpose not fully made known to me; if, I say, I have cause to suspect this to be the case, I shall most certainly withdraw the defence I should otherwise have made, or promoted on his (the publisher’s) behalf, and leave the negociators to themselves, and shall reserve the whole of the defence for the real trial.(1)
But, sir, for the purpose of conducting this matter with at least the appearance of fairness and openness, that shall justify itself before the public, whose cause it really is, (for it is the right of public discussion and investigation that is questioned,) I have to propose to you to cease the prosecution against the publisher; and as the reason or pretext can no longer exist for continuing it against him because Mr. Paine could not be found, that you would direct the whole process against me, with whom the prosecuting party will not find it possible to enter into any private negociation.
1 A detailed account of the proceedings with regard to the publisher will be found infra, in ix., Letter to the Addressers.—Editor.
I will do the cause full justice, as well for the sake of the nation, as for my own reputation.
Another reason for discontinuing the process against the publisher is, because it can amount to nothing. First, because a jury in London cannot decide upon the fact of publishing beyond the limits of the jurisdiction of London, and therefore the work may be republished over and over again in every county in the nation, and every case must have a separate process; and by the time that three or four hundred prosecutions have been had, the eyes of the nation will then be fully open to see that the work in question contains a plan the best calculated to root out all the abuses of government, and to lessen the taxes of the nation upwards of six millions annually.
Secondly, Because though the gentlemen of London may be very expert in understanding their particular professions and occupations, and how to make business contracts with government beneficial to themselves as individuals, the rest of the nation may not be disposed to consider them sufficiently qualified nor authorized to determine for the whole Nation on plans of reform, and on systems and principles of Government. This would be in effect to erect a jury into a National Convention, instead of electing a Convention, and to lay a precedent for the probable tyranny of juries, under the pretence of supporting their rights.
That the possibility always exists of packing juries will not be denied; and, therefore, in all cases, where Government is the prosecutor, more especially in those where the right of public discussion and investigation of principles and systems of Government is attempted to be suppressed by a verdict, or in those where the object of the work that is prosecuted is the reform of abuse and the abolition of sinecure places and pensions, in all these cases the verdict of a jury will itself become a subject of discussion; and therefore, it furnishes an additional reason for discontinuing the prosecution against the publisher, more especially as it is not a secret that there has been a negociation with him for secret purposes, and for proceeding against me only. I shall make a much stronger defence than what I believe the Treasury Solicitor’s agreement with him will permit him to do.
I believe that Mr. Burke, finding himself defeated, and not being able to make any answer to the Rights of Man, has been one of the promoters of this prosecution; and I shall return the compliment to him by shewing, in a future publication, that he has been a masked pensioner at 1500L. per annum for about ten years.
Thus it is that the public money is wasted, and the dread of public investigation is produced.
I am, sir, Your obedient humble servant,
1 Paine's case was set down for June 8th, and on that day he appeared in court; but, much to his disappointment, the trial was adjourned to December 18th, at which time he was in his place in the National Convention at Paris.—Editor.
V. TO MR. SECRETARY DUNDAS.(1)
London, June 6, 1793.
As you opened the debate in the House of Commons, May 25th, on the proclamation for suppressing publications, which that proclamation (without naming any) calls wicked and seditious: and as you applied those opprobious epithets to the works entitled “RIGHTS OF MAN,” I think it unnecessary to offer any other reason for addressing this letter to you.
I begin, then, at once, by declaring, that I do not believe there are found in the writings of any author, ancient or modern, on the subject of government, a spirit of greater benignity, and a stronger inculcation of moral principles than in those which I have published. They come, Sir, from a man, who, by having lived in different countries, and under different systems of government, and who, being intimate in the construction of them, is a better judge of the subject than it is possible that you, from the want of those opportunities, can be:—And besides this, they come from a heart that knows not how to beguile.
I will farther say, that when that moment arrives in which the best consolation that shall be left will be looking back on some past actions, more virtuous and more meritorious than the rest, I shall then with happiness remember, among other things, I have written the RIGHTS OF MAN.—-As to what proclamations, or prosecutions, or place-men, and place-expectants,—those who possess, or those who are gaping for office,—may say of them, it will not alter their character, either with the world or with me.
1 Henry D. (afterwards Viscount Melville), appointed Secretary for the Home Department, 1791. In 1805 he was impeached by the Commons for "gross malversation" while Treasurer of the Navy; he was acquitted by the Lords (1806), but not by public sentiment or by history.— Editor.
Having, Sir, made this declaration, I shall proceed to remark, not particularly on your speech on that occasion, but on any one to which your motion on that day gave rise; and I shall begin with that of Mr. Adam.
This Gentleman accuses me of not having done the very thing that I have done, and which, he says, if I had done, he should not have accused me.
Mr. Adam, in his speech, (see the Morning Chronicle of May 26,) says,
“That he had well considered the subject of Constitutional Publications, and was by no means ready to say (but the contrary) that books of science upon government though recommending a doctrine or system different from the form of our constitution (meaning that of England) were fit objects of prosecution; that if he did, he must condemn Harrington for his Oceana, Sir Thomas More for his Eutopia, and Hume for his Idea of a perfect Commonwealth. But (continued Mr. Adam) the publication of Mr. Paine was very different; for it reviled what was most sacred in the constitution, destroyed every principle of subordination, and established nothing in their room.”
I readily perceive that Mr. Adam has not read the Second Part of Rights of Man, and I am put under the necessity, either of submitting to an erroneous charge, or of justifying myself against it; and certainly shall prefer the latter.—If, then, I shall prove to Mr. Adam, that in my reasoning upon systems of government, in the Second Part of Rights of Man, I have shown as clearly, I think, as words can convey ideas, a certain system of government, and that not existing in theory only, but already in full and established practice, and systematically and practically free from all the vices and defects of the English government, and capable of producing more happiness to the people, and that also with an eightieth part of the taxes, which the present English system of government consumes; I hope he will do me the justice, when he next goes to the House, to get up and confess he had been mistaken in saying, that I had established nothing, and that I had destroyed every principle of subordination. Having thus opened the case, I now come to the point.
In the Second Part of the Rights of Man, I have distinguished government into two classes or systems: the one the hereditary system, the other the representative system.
In the First Part of Rights of Man, I have endeavoured to shew, and I challenge any man to refute it, that there does not exist a right to establish hereditary government; or, in other words, hereditary governors; because hereditary government always means a government yet to come, and the case always is, that the people who are to live afterwards, have always the same right to choose a government for themselves, as the people had who lived before them.
In the Second Part of Rights of Man, I have not repeated those arguments, because they are irrefutable; but have confined myself to shew the defects of what is called hereditary government, or hereditary succession, that it must, from the nature of it, throw government into the hands of men totally unworthy of it, from want of principle, or unfitted for it from want of capacity.—James the IId. is recorded as an instance of the first of these cases; and instances are to be found almost all over Europe to prove the truth of the latter.
To shew the absurdity of the Hereditary System still more strongly, I will now put the following case:—Take any fifty men promiscuously, and it will be very extraordinary, if, out of that number, one man should be found, whose principles and talents taken together (for some might have principles, and others might have talents) would render him a person truly fitted to fill any very extraordinary office of National Trust. If then such a fitness of character could not be expected to be found in more than one person out of fifty, it would happen but once in a thousand years to the eldest son of any one family, admitting each, on an average, to hold the office twenty years. Mr. Adam talks of something in the Constitution which he calls most sacred; but I hope he does not mean hereditary succession, a thing which appears to me a violation of every order of nature, and of common sense.
When I look into history and see the multitudes of men, otherwise virtuous, who have died, and their families been ruined, in the defence of knaves and fools, and which they would not have done, had they reasoned at all upon the system; I do not know a greater good that an individual can render to mankind, than to endeavour to break the chains of political superstition. Those chains are now dissolving fast, and proclamations and persecutions will serve but to hasten that dissolution.
Having thus spoken of the Hereditary System as a bad System, and subject to every possible defect, I now come to the Representative System, and this Mr. Adam will find stated in the Second Part of Rights of Man, not only as the best, but as the only Theory of Government under which the liberties of the people can be permanently secure.
But it is needless now to talk of mere theory, since there is already a government in full practice, established upon that theory; or in other words, upon the Rights of Man, and has been so for almost twenty years. Mr. Pitt, in a speech of his some short time since, said, “That there never did, and never could exist a Government established upon those Rights, and that if it began at noon, it would end at night.” Mr. Pitt has not yet arrived at the degree of a school-boy in this species of knowledge; his practice has been confined to the means of extorting revenue, and his boast has been—how much! Whereas the boast of the system of government that I am speaking of, is not how much, but how little.
The system of government purely representative, unmixed with any thing of hereditary nonsense, began in America. I will now compare the effects of that system of government with the system of government in England, both during, and since the close of the war.
So powerful is the Representative system, first, by combining and consolidating all the parts of a country together, however great the extent; and, secondly, by admitting of none but men properly qualified into the government, or dismissing them if they prove to be otherwise, that America was enabled thereby totally to defeat and overthrow all the schemes and projects of the hereditary government of England against her. As the establishment of the Revolution and Independence of America is a proof of this fact, it is needless to enlarge upon it.
I now come to the comparative effect of the two systems since the close of the war, and I request Mr. Adam to attend to it.
America had internally sustained the ravages of upwards of seven years of war, which England had not. England sustained only the expence of the war; whereas America sustained not only the expence, but the destruction of property committed by both armies. Not a house was built during that period, and many thousands were destroyed. The farms and plantations along the coast of the country, for more than a thousand miles, were laid waste. Her commerce was annihilated. Her ships were either taken, or had rotted within her own harbours. The credit of her funds had fallen upwards of ninety per cent., that is, an original hundred pounds would not sell for ten pounds. In fine, she was apparently put back an hundred years when the war closed, which was not the case with England.
But such was the event, that the same representative system of government, though since better organized, which enabled her to conquer, enabled her also to recover, and she now presents a more flourishing condition, and a more happy and harmonized society, under that system of government, than any country in the world can boast under any other. Her towns are rebuilt, much better than before; her farms and plantations are in higher improvement than ever; her commerce is spread over the world, and her funds have risen from less than ten pounds the hundred to upwards of one hundred and twenty. Mr. Pitt and his colleagues talk of the things that have happened in his boyish administration, without knowing what greater things have happened elsewhere, and under other systems of government.
I now come to state the expence of the two systems, as they now stand in each of the countries; but it may first be proper to observe, that government in America is what it ought to be, a matter of honour and trust, and not made a trade of for the purpose of lucre.
The whole amount of the nett(sic) taxes in England (exclusive of the expence of collection, of drawbacks, of seizures and condemnation, of fines and penalties, of fees of office, of litigations and informers, which are some of the blessed means of enforcing them) is seventeen millions. Of this sum, about nine millions go for the payment of the interest of the national debt, and the remainder, being about eight millions, is for the current annual expences. This much for one side of the case. I now come to the other.
The expence of the several departments of the general Representative Government of the United States of America, extending over a space of country nearly ten times larger than England, is two hundred and ninety-four thousand, five hundred and fifty-eight dollars, which, at 4s. 6d. per dollar, is 66,305L. 11s. sterling, and is thus apportioned;
On account of the incursions of the Indians on the back settlements, Congress is at this time obliged to keep six thousand militia in pay, in addition to a regiment of foot, and a battalion of artillery, which it always keeps; and this increases the expence of the War Department to 390,000 dollars, which is 87,795L. sterling, but when peace shall be concluded with the Indians, the greatest part of this expence will cease, and the total amount of the expence of government, including that of the army, will not amount to 100,000L. sterling, which, as has been already stated, is but an eightieth part of the expences of the English government.
I request Mr. Adam and Mr. Dundas, and all those who are talking of Constitutions, and blessings, and Kings, and Lords, and the Lord knows what, to look at this statement. Here is a form and system of government, that is better organized and better administered than any government in the world, and that for less than one hundred thousand pounds per annum, and yet every Member of Congress receives, as a compensation for his time and attendance on public business, one pound seven shillings per day, which is at the rate of nearly five hundred pounds a year.
This is a government that has nothing to fear. It needs no proclamations to deter people from writing and reading. It needs no political superstition to support it; it was by encouraging discussion and rendering the press free upon all subjects of government, that the principles of government became understood in America, and the people are now enjoying the present blessings under it. You hear of no riots, tumults, and disorders in that country; because there exists no cause to produce them. Those things are never the effect of Freedom, but of restraint, oppression, and excessive taxation.
In America, there is not that class of poor and wretched people that are so numerously dispersed all over England, who are to be told by a proclamation, that they are happy; and this is in a great measure to be accounted for, not by the difference of proclamations, but by the difference of governments and the difference of taxes between that country and this. What the labouring people of that country earn, they apply to their own use, and to the education of their children, and do not pay it away in taxes as fast as they earn it, to support Court extravagance, and a long enormous list of place-men and pensioners; and besides this, they have learned the manly doctrine of reverencing themselves, and consequently of respecting each other; and they laugh at those imaginary beings called Kings and Lords, and all the fraudulent trumpery of Court.
When place-men and pensioners, or those who expect to be such, are lavish in praise of a government, it is not a sign of its being a good one. The pension list alone in England (see sir John Sinclair’s History of the Revenue, p. 6, of the Appendix) is one hundred and seven thousand four hundred and four pounds, which is more than the expences of the whole Government of America amount to. And I am now more convinced than before, that the offer that was made to me of a thousand pounds for the copy-right of the second part of the Rights of Man, together with the remaining copyright of the first part, was to have effected, by a quick suppression, what is now attempted to be done by a prosecution. The connection which the person, who made the offer, has with the King’s printing-office, may furnish part of the means of inquiring into this affair, when the ministry shall please to bring their prosecution to issue.(1) But to return to my subject.—
I have said in the second part of the Rights of Man, and I repeat it here, that the service of any man, whether called King, President, Senator, Legislator, or any thing else, cannot be worth more to any country, in the regular routine of office, than ten thousand pounds per annum. We have a better man in America, and more of a gentleman, than any King I ever knew of, who does not occasion half that ex-pence; for, though the salary is fixed at £5625 he does not accept it, and it is only the incidental expences that are paid out of it.(2) The name by which a man is called is of itself but an empty thing. It is worth and character alone which can render him valuable, for without these, Kings, and Lords, and Presidents, are but jingling names.
But without troubling myself about Constitutions of Government, I have shewn in the Second Part of Rights of Man, that an alliance may be formed between England, France, and America, and that the expences of government in England may be put back to one million and a half, viz.:
Civil expence of Government...... 500,000L. Army............................. 500,000 Navy............................. 500,000 ————— 1,500,000L.
And even this sum is fifteen times greater than the expences of government are in America; and it is also greater than the whole peace establishment of England amounted to about an hundred years ago. So much has the weight and oppression of taxes increased since the Revolution, and especially since the year 1714.
1 At Paine's trial, Chapman, the printer, in answer to fa question of the Solicitor General, said: "I made him three separate offers in the different stages of the work; the first, I believe, was a hundred guineas, the second five hundred, and the last was a thousand."—Editor. 2 Error. See also ante, and in vol. ii., p. 435. Washington had retracted his original announcement, and received his salary regularly.—Editor.
To shew that the sum of 500,000L. is sufficient to defray all civil expences of government, I have, in that work, annexed the following estimate for any country of the same extent as England.—
In the first place, three hundred Representatives, fairly elected, are sufficient for all the purposes to which Legislation can apply, and preferable to a larger number.
If, then, an allowance, at the rate of 500L. per annum be made to every Representative, deducting for non-attendance, the expence, if the whole number attended six months each year, would be…….75,000L.
The Official Departments could not possibly exceed the following number, with the salaries annexed, viz.:
Three offices at 10,000L. each 30,000 Ten ditto at 5,000 u 50,000 Twenty ditto at 2,000 u 40,000 Forty ditto at 1,000 it 40,000 Two hundred ditto at 500 u 100,000 Three hundred ditto at 200 u 60,000 Five hundred ditto at 100 u 50,000 Seven hundred ditto at 75 it 52,500
497,500L.If a nation chose, it might deduct four per cent, from all the offices, and make one of twenty thousand pounds per annum, and style the person who should fill it, King or Madjesty, (1) or give him any other title.
Taking, however, this sum of one million and a half, as an abundant supply for all the expences of government under any form whatever, there will remain a surplus of nearly six millions and a half out of the present taxes, after paying the interest of the national debt; and I have shewn in the Second Part of Rights of Man, what appears to me, the best mode of applying the surplus money; for I am now speaking of expences and savings, and not of systems of government.
1 A friend of Paine advised him against this pun, as too personal an allusion to George the Third, to whom however much has been forgiven on account of his mental infirmity. Yorke, in his account of his visit to Paine, 1802, alludes to his (Paine's) anecdotes "of humor and benevolence" concerning George III.—Editor.
I have, in the first place, estimated the poor-rates at two millions annually, and shewn that the first effectual step would be to abolish the poor-rates entirely (which would be a saving of two millions to the house-keepers,) and to remit four millions out of the surplus taxes to the poor, to be paid to them in money, in proportion to the number of children in each family, and the number of aged persons.
I have estimated the number of persons of both sexes in England, of fifty years of age and upwards, at 420,000, and have taken one third of this number, viz. 140,000, to be poor people.
To save long calculations, I have taken 70,000 of them to be upwards of fifty years of age, and under sixty, and the others to be sixty years and upwards; and to allow six pounds per annum to the former class, and ten pounds per annum to the latter. The expence of which will be,
Seventy thousand persons at 6L. per annum..... 420,000L. Seventy thousand persons at 10L. per annum.... 700,000 —————- 1,120,000L.
There will then remain of the four millions, 2,880,000L. I have stated two different methods of appropriating this money. The one is to pay it in proportion to the number of children in each family, at the rate of three or four pounds per annum for each child; the other is to apportion it according to the expence of living in different counties; but in either of these cases it would, together with the allowance to be made to the aged, completely take off taxes from one third of all the families in England, besides relieving all the other families from the burthen of poor-rates.
The whole number of families in England, allotting five souls to each family, is one million four hundred thousand, of which I take one third, viz. 466,666 to be poor families who now pay four millions of taxes, and that the poorest pays at least four guineas a year; and that the other thirteen millions are paid by the other two-thirds. The plan, therefore, as stated in the work, is, first, to remit or repay, as is already stated, this sum of four millions to the poor, because it is impossible to separate them from the others in the present mode of collecting taxes on articles of consumption; and, secondly, to abolish the poor-rates, the house and window-light tax, and to change the commutation tax into a progressive tax on large estates, the particulars of all which are set forth in the work, to which I desire Mr. Adam to refer for particulars. I shall here content myself with saying, that to a town of the population of Manchester, it will make a difference in its favour, compared with the present state of things, of upwards of fifty thousand pounds annually, and so in proportion to all other places throughout the nation. This certainly is of more consequence than that the same sums should be collected to be afterwards spent by riotous and profligate courtiers, and in nightly revels at the Star and Garter tavern, Pall Mall.
I will conclude this part of my letter with an extract from the Second Part of the Rights of Man, which Mr. Dundas (a man rolling in luxury at the expence of the nation) has branded with the epithet of “wicked.”
“By the operation of this plan, the poor laws, those instruments of civil torture, will be superseded, and the wasteful ex-pence of litigation prevented. The hearts of the humane will not be shocked by ragged and hungry children, and persons of seventy and eighty years of age begging for bread. The dying poor will not be dragged from place to place to breathe their last, as a reprisal of parish upon parish. Widows will have a maintenance for their children, and not be carted away, on the death of their husbands, like culprits and criminals; and children will no longer be considered as increasing the distresses of their parents. The haunts of the wretched will be known, because it will be to their advantage; and the number of petty crimes, the offspring of poverty and distress, will be lessened. The poor as well as the rich will then be interested in the support of Government, and the cause and apprehension of riots and tumults will cease. Ye who sit in ease, and solace yourselves in plenty, and such there are in Turkey and Russia, as well as in England, and who say to yourselves, are we not well off have ye thought of these things? When ye do, ye will cease to speak and feel for yourselves alone.”
After this remission of four millions be made, and the poor-rates and houses and window-light tax be abolished, and the commutation tax changed, there will still remain nearly one million and a half of surplus taxes; and as by an alliance between England, France and America, armies and navies will, in a great measure, be rendered unnecessary; and as men who have either been brought up in, or long habited to, those lines of life, are still citizens of a nation in common with the rest, and have a right to participate in all plans of national benefit, it is stated in that work (Rights of Man, Part ii.) to apply annually 507,000L. out of the surplus taxes to this purpose, in the following manner:
The limits to which it is proper to confine this letter, will not admit of my entering into further particulars. I address it to Mr. Dundas because he took the lead in the debate, and he wishes, I suppose, to appear conspicuous; but the purport of it is to justify myself from the charge which Mr. Adam has made.
This Gentleman, as has been observed in the beginning of this letter, considers the writings of Harrington, More and Hume, as justifiable and legal publications, because they reasoned by comparison, though in so doing they shewed plans and systems of government, not only different from, but preferable to, that of England; and he accuses me of endeavouring to confuse, instead of producing a system in the room of that which I had reasoned against; whereas, the fact is, that I have not only reasoned by comparison of the representative system against the hereditary system, but I have gone further; for I have produced an instance of a government established entirely on the representative system, under which greater happiness is enjoyed, much fewer taxes required, and much higher credit is established, than under the system of government in England. The funds in England have risen since the war only from 54L. to 97L. and they have been down since the proclamation, to 87L. whereas the funds in America rose in the mean time from 10L. to 120L.
His charge against me of “destroying every principle of subordination,” is equally as groundless; which even a single paragraph from the work will prove, and which I shall here quote:
“Formerly when divisions arose respecting Governments, recourse was had to the sword, and a civil war ensued. That savage custom is exploded by the new system, andrecourse is had to a national convention. Discussion, and the general will, arbitrates the question, and to this private opinion yields with a good grace, and order is preserved uninterrupted.”
That two different charges should be brought at the same time, the one by a Member of the Legislative, for not doing a certain thing, and the other by the Attorney General for doing it, is a strange jumble of contradictions. I have now justified myself, or the work rather, against the first, by stating the case in this letter, and the justification of the other will be undertaken in its proper place. But in any case the work will go on.
I shall now conclude this letter with saying, that the only objection I found against the plan and principles contained in the Second Part of Rights of Man, when I had written the book, was, that they would beneficially interest at least ninety-nine persons out of every hundred throughout the nation, and therefore would not leave sufficient room for men to act from the direct and disinterested principles of honour; but the prosecution now commenced has fortunately removed that objection, and the approvers and protectors of that work now feel the immediate impulse of honour added to that of national interest.
I am, Mr. Dundas,
Not your obedient humble Servant,
But the contrary,
VI. LETTERS TO ONSLOW CRANLEY,
Lord Lieutenant of the county of Surry; on the subject of the late excellent proclamation:—or the chairman who shall preside at the meeting to be held at Epsom, June 18.
FIRST LETTER.London, June 17th, 1792.
SIR,I have seen in the public newspapers the following advertisement, to wit—
“To the Nobility, Gentry, Clergy, Freeholders, and other Inhabitants of the county of Surry.
“At the requisition and desire of several of the freeholders of the county, I am, in the absence of the Sheriff, to desire the favour of your attendance, at a meeting to be held at Epsom, on Monday, the 18th instant, at 12 o’clock at noon, to consider of an humble address to his majesty, to express our grateful approbation of his majesty’s paternal, and well-timed attendance to the public welfare, in his late most gracious Proclamation against the enemies of our happy Constitution.
“(Signed.) Onslow Cranley.”
Taking it for granted, that the aforesaid advertisement, equally as obscure as the proclamation to which it refers, has nevertheless some meaning, and is intended to effect some purpose; and as a prosecution (whether wisely or unwisely, justly or unjustly) is already commenced against a work intitled RIGHTS OF MAN, of which I have the honour and happiness to be the author; I feel it necessary to address this letter to you, and to request that it may be read publicly to the gentlemen who shall meet at Epsom in consequence of the advertisement.
The work now under prosecution is, I conceive, the same work which is intended to be suppressed by the aforesaid proclamation. Admitting this to be the case, the gentlemen of the county of Surry are called upon by somebody to condemn a work, and they are at the same time forbidden by the proclamation to know what that work is; and they are further called upon to give their aid and assistance to prevent other people from knowing it also. It is therefore necessary that the author, for his own justification, as well as to prevent the gentlemen who shall meet from being imposed upon by misrepresentation, should give some outlines of the principles and plans which that work contains.
The work, Sir, in question, contains, first, an investigation of general principles of government.
It also distinguishes government into two classes or systems, the one the hereditary system; the other the representative system; and it compares these two systems with each other.
It shews that what is called hereditary government cannot exist as a matter of right; because hereditary government always means a government yet to come; and the case always is, that those who are to live afterwards have always the same right to establish a government for themselves as the people who had lived before them.
It also shews the defect to which hereditary government is unavoidably subject: that it must, from the nature of it, throw government into the hands of men totally unworthy of it from the want of principle, and unfitted for it from want of capacity. James II. and many others are recorded in the English history as proofs of the former of those cases, and instances are to be found all over Europe to prove the truth of the latter.
It then shews that the representative system is the only true system of government; that it is also the only system under which the liberties of any people can be permanently secure; and, further, that it is the only one that can continue the same equal probability at all times of admitting of none but men properly qualified, both by principles and abilities, into government, and of excluding such as are otherwise.
The work shews also, by plans and calculations not hitherto denied nor controverted, not even by the prosecution that is commenced, that the taxes now existing may be reduced at least six millions, that taxes may be entirely taken off from the poor, who are computed at one third of the nation; and that taxes on the other two thirds may be considerably reduced; that the aged poor may be comfortably provided for, and the children of poor families properly educated; that fifteen thousand soldiers, and the same number of sailors, may be allowed three shillings per week during life out of the surplus taxes; and also that a proportionate allowance may be made to the officers, and the pay of the remaining soldiers and sailors be raised; and that it is better to apply the surplus taxes to those purposes, than to consume them on lazy and profligate placemen and pensioners; and that the revenue, said to be twenty thousand pounds per annum, raised by a tax upon coals, and given to the Duke of Richmond, is a gross imposition upon all the people of London, and ought to be instantly abolished.