The Writings Of Thomas Paine, Complete - With Index to Volumes I - IV
by Thomas Paine
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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 Abbe (July 8) elicited by Paine's letter to "Le Republicain" (II.). The Abbe 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.

Thomas Paine.(1)

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.


[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,

Thomas Paine.(1)

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.


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 L5625 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


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, and recourse 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,

Thomas Paine.


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.


London, June 17th, 1792.


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.

This, Sir, is a concise abstract of the principles and plans contained in the work that is now prosecuted, and for the suppression of which the proclamation appears to be intended; but as it is impossible that I can, in the compass of a letter, bring into view all the matters contained in the work, and as it is proper that the gentlemen who may compose that meeting should know what the merits or demerits of it are, before they come to any resolutions, either directly or indirectly relating thereto, I request the honour of presenting them with one hundred copies of the second part of the Rights of Man, and also one thousand copies of my letter to Mr. Dundas, which I have directed to be sent to Epsom for that purpose; and I beg the favour of the Chairman to take the trouble of presenting them to the gentlemen who shall meet on that occasion, with my sincere wishes for their happiness, and for that of the nation in general.

Having now closed thus much of the subject of my letter, I next come to speak of what has relation to me personally. I am well aware of the delicacy that attends it, but the purpose of calling the meeting appears to me so inconsistent with that justice that is always due between man and man, that it is proper I should (as well on account of the gentlemen who may meet, as on my own account) explain myself fully and candidly thereon.

I have already informed the gentlemen, that a prosecution is commenced against a work of which I have the honour and happiness to be the author; and I have good reasons for believing that the proclamation which the gentlemen are called to consider, and to present an address upon, is purposely calculated to give an impression to the jury before whom that matter is to come. In short, that it is dictating a verdict by proclamation; and I consider the instigators of the meeting to be held at Epsom, as aiding and abetting the same improper, and, in my opinion, illegal purpose, and that in a manner very artfully contrived, as I shall now shew.

Had a meeting been called of the Freeholders of the county of Middlesex, the gentlemen who had composed that meeting would have rendered themselves objectionable as persons to serve on a Jury, before whom the judicial case was afterwards to come. But by calling a meeting out of the county of Middlesex, that matter is artfully avoided, and the gentlemen of Surry are summoned, as if it were intended thereby to give a tone to the sort of verdict which the instigators of the meeting no doubt wish should be brought in, and to give countenance to the Jury in so doing. I am, sir,

With much respect to the

Gentlemen who shall meet, Their and your obedient and humble Servant,

Thomas Paine.




London, June 21st 1792.

WHEN I wrote you the letter which Mr. Home Tooke did me the favour to present to you, as chairman of the meeting held at Epsom, Monday, June 18, it was not with much expectation that you would do me the justice of permitting, or recommending it to be publicly read. I am well aware that the signature of Thomas Paine has something in it dreadful to sinecure Placemen and Pensioners; and when you, on seeing the letter opened, informed the meeting that it was signed Thomas Paine, and added in a note of exclamation, "the common enemy of us all." you spoke one of the greatest truths you ever uttered, if you confine the expression to men of the same description with yourself; men living in indolence and luxury, on the spoil and labours of the public.

The letter has since appeared in the "Argus," and probably in other papers.(1) It will justify itself; but if any thing on that account hath been wanting, your conduct at the meeting would have supplied the omission. You there sufficiently proved that I was not mistaken in supposing that the meeting was called to give an indirect aid to the prosecution commenced against a work, the reputation of which will long outlive the memory of the Pensioner I am writing to.

When meetings, Sir, are called by the partisans of the Court, to preclude the nation the right of investigating systems and principles of government, and of exposing errors and defects, under the pretence of prosecuting an individual—it furnishes an additional motive for maintaining sacred that violated right.

The principles and arguments contained in the work in question, Rights OF Man, have stood, and they now stand, and I believe ever will stand, unrefuted. They are stated in a fair and open manner to the world, and they have already received the public approbation of a greater number of men, of the best of characters, of every denomination of religion, and of every rank in life, (placemen and pensioners excepted,) than all the juries that shall meet in England, for ten years to come, will amount to; and I have, moreover, good reasons for believing that the approvers of that work, as well private as public, are already more numerous than all the present electors throughout the nation.

1 The Argus was edited by Sampson Perry, soon after prosecuted.—Editor.

Not less than forty pamphlets, intended as answers thereto, have appeared, and as suddenly disappeared: scarcely are the titles of any of them remembered, notwithstanding their endeavours have been aided by all the daily abuse which the Court and Ministerial newspapers, for almost a year and a half, could bestow, both upon the work and the author; and now that every attempt to refute, and every abuse has failed, the invention of calling the work a libel has been hit upon, and the discomfited party has pusillanimously retreated to prosecution and a jury, and obscure addresses.

As I well know that a long letter from me will not be agreeable to you, I will relieve your uneasiness by making it as short as I conveniently can; and will conclude it with taking up the subject at that part where Mr. HORNE TOOKE was interrupted from going on when at the meeting.

That gentleman was stating, that the situation you stood in rendered it improper for you to appear actively in a scene in which your private interest was too visible: that you were a Bedchamber Lord at a thousand a year, and a Pensioner at three thousand pounds a year more—and here he was stopped by the little but noisy circle you had collected round. Permit me then, Sir, to add an explanation to his words, for the benefit of your neighbours, and with which, and a few observations, I shall close my letter.

When it was reported in the English Newspapers, some short time since, that the empress of RUSSIA had given to one of her minions a large tract of country and several thousands of peasants as property, it very justly provoked indignation and abhorrence in those who heard it. But if we compare the mode practised in England, with that which appears to us so abhorrent in Russia, it will be found to amount to very near the same thing;—for example—

As the whole of the revenue in England is drawn by taxes from the pockets of the people, those things called gifts and grants (of which kind are all pensions and sinecure places) are paid out of that stock. The difference, therefore, between the two modes is, that in England the money is collected by the government, and then given to the Pensioner, and in Russia he is left to collect it for himself. The smallest sum which the poorest family in a county so near London as Surry, can be supposed to pay annually, of taxes, is not less than five pounds; and as your sinecure of one thousand, and pension of three thousand per annum, are made up of taxes paid by eight hundred such poor families, it comes to the same thing as if the eight hundred families had been given to you, as in Russia, and you had collected the money on your account. Were you to say that you are not quartered particularly on the people of Surrey, but on the nation at large, the objection would amount to nothing; for as there are more pensioners than counties, every one may be considered as quartered on that in which he lives.

What honour or happiness you can derive from being the PRINCIPAL PAUPER of the neighbourhood, and occasioning a greater expence than the poor, the aged, and the infirm, for ten miles round you, I leave you to enjoy. At the same time I can see that it is no wonder you should be strenuous in suppressing a book which strikes at the root of those abuses. No wonder that you should be against reforms, against the freedom of the press, and the right of investigation. To you, and to others of your description, these are dreadful things; but you should also consider, that the motives which prompt you to act, ought, by reflection, to compel you to be silent.

Having now returned your compliment, and sufficiently tired your patience, I take my leave of you, with mentioning, that if you had not prevented my former letter from being read at the meeting, you would not have had the trouble of reading this; and also with requesting, that the next time you call me "a common enemy," you would add, "of us sinecure placemen and pensioners."

I am, Sir, &c. &c. &c.

Thomas Paine.



London, June 30, 1792.


I have seen in the Lewes newspapers, of June 25, an advertisement, signed by sundry persons, and also by the sheriff, for holding a meeting at the Town-hall of Lewes, for the purpose, as the advertisement states, of presenting an Address on the late Proclamation for suppressing writings, books, &c. And as I conceive that a certain publication of mine, entitled "Rights of Man," in which, among other things, the enormous increase of taxes, placemen, and pensioners, is shewn to be unnecessary and oppressive, is the particular writing alluded to in the said publication; I request the Sheriff, or in his absence, whoever shall preside at the meeting, or any other person, to read this letter publicly to the company who shall assemble in consequence of that advertisement.

Gentlemen—It is now upwards of eighteen years since I was a resident inhabitant of the town of Lewes. My situation among you, as an officer of the revenue, for more than six years, enabled me to see into the numerous and various distresses which the weight of taxes even at that time of day occasioned; and feeling, as I then did, and as it is natural for me to do, for the hard condition of others, it is with pleasure I can declare, and every person then under my survey, and now living, can witness, the exceeding candour, and even tenderness, with which that part of the duty that fell to my share was executed. The name of Thomas Paine is not to be found in the records of the Lewes' justices, in any one act of contention with, or severity of any kind whatever towards, the persons whom he surveyed, either in the town, or in the country; of this, Mr. Fuller and Mr. Shelley, who will probably attend the meeting, can, if they please, give full testimony. It is, however, not in their power to contradict it.

Having thus indulged myself in recollecting a place where I formerly had, and even now have, many friends, rich and poor, and most probably some enemies, I proceed to the more important purport of my letter.

Since my departure from Lewes, fortune or providence has thrown me into a line of action, which my first setting out into life could not possibly have suggested to me.

I have seen the fine and fertile country of America ravaged and deluged in blood, and the taxes of England enormously increased and multiplied in consequence thereof; and this, in a great measure, by the instigation of the same class of placemen, pensioners, and Court dependants, who are now promoting addresses throughout England, on the present unintelligible Proclamation.

I have also seen a system of Government rise up in that country, free from corruption, and now administered over an extent of territory ten times as large as England, for less expence than the pensions alone in England amount to; and under which more freedom is enjoyed, and a more happy state of society is preserved, and a more general prosperity is promoted, than under any other system of Government now existing in the world. Knowing, as I do, the things I now declare, I should reproach myself with want of duty and affection to mankind, were I not in the most undismayed manner to publish them, as it were, on the house-tops, for the good of others.

Having thus glanced at what has passed within my knowledge, since my leaving Lewes, I come to the subject more immediately before the meeting now present.

Mr. Edmund Burke, who, as I shall show, in a future publication, has lived a concealed pensioner, at the expence of the public, of fifteen hundred pounds per annum, for about ten years last past, published a book the winter before last, in open violation of the principles of liberty, and for which he was applauded by that class of men who are now promoting addresses. Soon after his book appeared, I published the first part of the work, entitled "Rights of Man," as an answer thereto, and had the happiness of receiving the public thanks of several bodies of men, and of numerous individuals of the best character, of every denomination in religion, and of every rank in life—placemen and pensioners excepted.

In February last, I published the Second Part of "Rights of Man," and as it met with still greater approbation from the true friends of national freedom, and went deeper into the system of Government, and exposed the abuses of it, more than had been done in the First Part, it consequently excited an alarm among all those, who, insensible of the burthen of taxes which the general mass of the people sustain, are living in luxury and indolence, and hunting after Court preferments, sinecure places, and pensions, either for themselves, or for their family connections.

I have shewn in that work, that the taxes may be reduced at least six millions, and even then the expences of Government in England would be twenty times greater than they are in the country I have already spoken of. That taxes may be entirely taken off from the poor, by remitting to them in money at the rate of between three and four pounds per head per annum, for the education and bringing up of the children of the poor families, who are computed at one third of the whole nation, and six pounds per annum to all poor persons, decayed tradesmen, or others, from the age of fifty until sixty, and ten pounds per annum from after sixty. And that in consequence of this allowance, to be paid out of the surplus taxes, the poor-rates would become unnecessary, and that it is better to apply the surplus taxes to these beneficent purposes, than to waste them on idle and profligate courtiers, placemen, and pensioners.

These, gentlemen, are a part of the plans and principles contained in the work, which this meeting is now called upon, in an indirect manner, to vote an address against, and brand with the name of wicked and seditious. But that the work may speak for itself, I request leave to close this part of my letter with an extract therefrom, in the following words: [Quotation the same as that on p. 26.]

Gentlemen, I have now stated to you such matters as appear necessary to me to offer to the consideration of the meeting. I have no other interest in what I am doing, nor in writing you this letter, than the interest of the heart. I consider the proposed address as calculated to give countenance to placemen, pensioners, enormous taxation, and corruption. Many of you will recollect, that whilst I resided among you, there was not a man more firm and open in supporting the principles of liberty than myself, and I still pursue, and ever will, the same path.

I have, Gentlemen, only one request to make, which is—that those who have called the meeting will speak out, and say, whether in the address they are going to present against publications, which the proclamation calls wicked, they mean the work entitled Rights of Man, or whether they do not?

I am, Gentlemen, With sincere wishes for your happiness,

Your friend and Servant,

Thomas Paine.


Calais, Sept. 15, 1792.


I CONCEIVE it necessary to make you acquainted with the following circumstance:—The department of Calais having elected me a member of the National Convention of France, I set off from London the 13th instant, in company with Mr. Frost, of Spring Garden, and Mr. Audibert, one of the municipal officers of Calais, who brought me the certificate of my being elected. We had not arrived more, I believe, than five minutes at the York Hotel, at Dover, when the train of circumstances began that I am going to relate. We had taken our baggage out of the carriage, and put it into a room, into which we went. Mr. Frost, having occasion to go out, was stopped in the passage by a gentleman, who told him he must return into the room, which he did, and the gentleman came in with him, and shut the door. I had remained in the room; Mr. Audibert was gone to inquire when the packet was to sail. The gentleman then said, that he was collector of the customs, and had an information against us, and must examine our baggage for prohibited articles. He produced his commission as Collector. Mr. Frost demanded to see the information, which the Collector refused to shew, and continued to refuse, on every demand that we made. The Collector then called in several other officers, and began first to search our pockets. He took from Mr. Audibert, who was then returned into the room, every thing he found in his pocket, and laid it on the table. He then searched Mr. Frost in the same manner, (who, among other things, had the keys of the trunks in his pocket,) and then did the same by me. Mr. Frost wanting to go out, mentioned it, and was going towards the door; on which the Collector placed himself against the door, and said, nobody should depart the room. After the keys had been taken from Mr. Frost, (for I had given him the keys of my trunks beforehand, for the purpose of his attending the baggage to the customs, if it should be necessary,) the Collector asked us to open the trunks, presenting us the keys for that purpose; this we declined to do, unless he would produce his information, which he again refused. The Collector then opened the trunks himself, and took out every paper and letter, sealed or unsealed. On our remonstrating with him on the bad policy, as well as the illegality, of Custom-House officers seizing papers and letters, which were things that did not come under their cognizance, he replied, that the Proclamation gave him the authority.

Among the letters which he took out of my trunk, were two sealed letters, given into my charge by the American Minister in London [Pinckney], one of which was directed to the American Minister at Paris [Gouverneur Morris], the other to a private gentleman; a letter from the President of the United States, and a letter from the Secretary of State in America, both directed to me, and which I had received from the American Minister, now in London, and were private letters of friendship; a letter from the electoral body of the Department of Calais, containing the notification of my being elected to the National Convention; and a letter from the President of the National Assembly, informing me of my being also elected for the Department of the Oise.

As we found that all remonstrances with the Collector, on the bad policy and illegality of seizing papers and letters, and retaining our persons by force, under the pretence of searching for prohibited articles, were vain, (for he justified himself on the Proclamation, and on the information which he refused to shew,) we contented ourselves with assuring him, that what he was then doing, he would afterwards have to answer for, and left it to himself to do as he pleased.

It appeared to us that the Collector was acting under the direction of some other person or persons, then in the hotel, but whom he did not choose we should see, or who did not choose to be seen by us; for the Collector went several times out of the room for a few minutes, and was also called out several times.

When the Collector had taken what papers and letters he pleased out of the trunks, he proceeded to read them. The first letter he took up for this purpose was that from the President of the United States to me. While he was doing this, I said, that it was very extraordinary that General Washington could not write a letter of private friendship to me, without its being subject to be read by a custom-house officer. Upon this Mr. Frost laid his hand over the face of the letter, and told the Collector that he should not read it, and took it from him. Mr. Frost then, casting his eyes on the concluding paragraph of the letter, said, I will read this part to you, which he did; of which the following is an exact transcript—

"And as no one can feel a greater interest in the happiness of mankind than I do, it is the first wish of my heart, that the enlightened policy of the present age may diffuse to all men those blessings to which they are entitled, and lay the foundation of happiness for future generations."(1)

As all the other letters and papers lay then on the table, the Collector took them up, and was going out of the room with them. During the transactions already stated, I contented myself with observing what passed, and spoke but little; but on seeing the Collector going out of the room with the letters, I told him that the papers and letters then in his hand were either belonging to me, or entrusted to my charge, and that as I could not permit them to be out of my sight, I must insist on going with him.

1 Washington's letter is dated 6 May, 1792. See my Life of Paine vol. i., p. 302.—Editor.

The Collector then made a list of the letters and papers, and went out of the room, giving the letters and papers into the charge of one of the officers. He returned in a short time, and, after some trifling conversation, chiefly about the Proclamation, told us, that he saw the Proclamation was ill-founded, and asked if we chose to put the letters and papers into the trunks ourselves, which, as we had not taken them out, we declined doing, and he did it himself, and returned us the keys.

In stating to you these matters, I make no complaint against the personal conduct of the Collector, or of any of the officers. Their manner was as civil as such an extraordinary piece of business could admit of.

My chief motive in writing to you on this subject is, that you may take measures for preventing the like in future, not only as it concerns private individuals, but in order to prevent a renewal of those unpleasant consequences that have heretofore arisen between nations from circumstances equally as insignificant. I mention this only for myself; but as the interruption extended to two other gentlemen, it is probable that they, as individuals, will take some more effectual mode for redress.

I am, Sir, yours, &c.

Thomas Paine.

P. S. Among the papers seized, was a copy of the Attorney-General's information against me for publishing the Rights of Man, and a printed proof copy of my Letter to the Addressers, which will soon be published.


COULD I have commanded circumstances with a wish, I know not of any that would have more generally promoted the progress of knowledge, than the late Proclamation, and the numerous rotten Borough and Corporation Addresses thereon. They have not only served as advertisements, but they have excited a spirit of enquiry into principles of government, and a desire to read the Rights OF Man, in places where that spirit and that work were before unknown.

The people of England, wearied and stunned with parties, and alternately deceived by each, had almost resigned the prerogative of thinking. Even curiosity had expired, and a universal languor had spread itself over the land. The opposition was visibly no other than a contest for power, whilst the mass of the nation stood torpidly by as the prize.

In this hopeless state of things, the First Part of the Rights of Man made its appearance. It had to combat with a strange mixture of prejudice and indifference; it stood exposed to every species of newspaper abuse; and besides this, it had to remove the obstructions which Mr. Burke's rude and outrageous attack on the French Revolution had artfully raised.

1 The Royal Proclamation issued against seditious writings, May 21st. This pamphlet, the proof of which was read in Paris (see P. S. of preceding chapter), was published at 1s. 6d. by H. D. Symonds, Paternoster Row, and Thomas Clio Rickman, 7 Upper Marylebone Street (where it was written), both pub-Ushers being soon after prosecuted.—Editor.

But how easy does even the most illiterate reader distinguish the spontaneous sensations of the heart, from the laboured productions of the brain. Truth, whenever it can fully appear, is a thing so naturally familiar to the mind, that an acquaintance commences at first sight. No artificial light, yet discovered, can display all the properties of daylight; so neither can the best invented fiction fill the mind with every conviction which truth begets.

To overthrow Mr. Burke's fallacious book was scarcely the operation of a day. Even the phalanx of Placemen and Pensioners, who had given the tone to the multitude, by clamouring forth his political fame, became suddenly silent; and the final event to himself has been, that as he rose like a rocket, he fell like the stick.

It seldom happens, that the mind rests satisfied with the simple detection of error or imposition. Once put in motion, that motion soon becomes accelerated; where it had intended to stop, it discovers new reasons to proceed, and renews and continues the pursuit far beyond the limits it first prescribed to itself. Thus it has happened to the people of England. From a detection of Mr. Burke's incoherent rhapsodies, and distorted facts, they began an enquiry into the first principles of Government, whilst himself, like an object left far behind, became invisible and forgotten.

Much as the First Part of RIGHTS OF Man impressed at its first appearance, the progressive mind soon discovered that it did not go far enough. It detected errors; it exposed absurdities; it shook the fabric of political superstition; it generated new ideas; but it did not produce a regular system of principles in the room of those which it displaced. And, if I may guess at the mind of the Government-party, they beheld it as an unexpected gale that would soon blow over, and they forbore, like sailors in threatening weather, to whistle, lest they should encrease(sic) the wind. Every thing, on their part, was profound silence.

When the Second Part of Rights of Man, combining Principle and Practice, was preparing to appear, they affected, for a while, to act with the same policy as before; but finding their silence had no more influence in stifling the progress of the work, than it would have in stopping the progress of time, they changed their plan, and affected to treat it with clamorous contempt. The Speech-making Placemen and Pensioners, and Place-expectants, in both Houses of Parliament, the Outs as well as the Ins, represented it as a silly, insignificant performance; as a work incapable of producing any effect; as something which they were sure the good sense of the people would either despise or indignantly spurn; but such was the overstrained awkwardness with which they harangued and encouraged each other, that in the very act of declaring their confidence they betrayed their fears.

As most of the rotten Borough Addressers are obscured in holes and corners throughout the country, and to whom a newspaper arrives as rarely as an almanac, they most probably have not had the opportunity of knowing how far this part of the farce (the original prelude to all the Addresses) has been acted. For their information, I will suspend a while the more serious purpose of my Letter, and entertain them with two or three Speeches in the last Session of Parliament, which will serve them for politics till Parliament meets again.

You must know, Gentlemen, that the Second Part of the Rights of Man (the book against which you have been presenting Addresses, though it is most probable that many of you did not know it) was to have come out precisely at the time that Parliament last met. It happened not to be published till a few days after. But as it was very well known that the book would shortly appear, the parliamentary Orators entered into a very cordial coalition to cry the book down, and they began their attack by crying up the blessings of the Constitution.

Had it been your fate to have been there, you could not but have been moved at the heart-and-pocket-felt congratulations that passed between all the parties on this subject of blessings; for the Outs enjoy places and pensions and sinecures as well as the Ins, and are as devoutly attached to the firm of the house.

One of the most conspicuous of this motley groupe, is the Clerk of the Court of King's Bench, who calls himself Lord Stormont. He is also called Justice General of Scotland, and Keeper of Scoon, (an opposition man,) and he draws from the public for these nominal offices, not less, as I am informed, than six thousand pounds a-year, and he is, most probably, at the trouble of counting the money, and signing a receipt, to shew, perhaps, that he is qualified to be Clerk as well as Justice. He spoke as follows.(*)

"That we shall all be unanimous in expressing our attachment to the constitution of these realms, I am confident. It is a subject upon which there can be no divided opinion in this house. I do not pretend to be deep read in the knowledge of the Constitution, but I take upon me to say, that from the extent of my knowledge [for I have so many thousands a year for nothing] it appears to me, that from the period of the Revolution, for it was by no means created then, it has been, both in theory and practice, the wisest system that ever was formed. I never was [he means he never was till now] a dealer in political cant. My life has not been occupied in that way, but the speculations of late years seem to have taken a turn, for which I cannot account. When I came into public life, the political pamphlets of the time, however they might be charged with the heat and violence of parties, were agreed in extolling the radical beauties of the Constitution itself. I remember [he means he has forgotten] a most captivating eulogium on its charms, by Lord Bolingbroke, where he recommends his readers to contemplate it in all its aspects, with the assurance that it would be found more estimable the more it was seen, I do not recollect his precise words, but I wish that men who write upon these subjects would take this for their model, instead of the political pamphlets, which, I am told, are now in circulation, [such, I suppose, as Rights of Man,] pamphlets which I have not read, and whose purport I know only by report, [he means, perhaps, by the noise they make.] This, however, I am sure, that pamphlets tending to unsettle the public reverence for the constitution, will have very little influence. They can do very little harm—for [by the bye, he is no dealer in political cant] the English are a sober-thinking people, and are more intelligent, more solid, more steady in their opinions, than any people I ever had the fortune to see. [This is pretty well laid on, though, for a new beginner.] But if there should ever come a time when the propagation of those doctrines should agitate the public mind, I am sure for every one of your Lordships, that no attack will be made on the constitution, from which it is truly said that we derive all our prosperity, without raising every one of your Lordships to its support It will then be found that there is no difference among us, but that we are all determined to stand or fall together, in defence of the inestimable system "—[of places and pensions].

* See his speech in the Morning Chronicle of Feb. 1.— Author.

After Stormont, on the opposition side, sat down, up rose another noble Lord, on the ministerial side, Grenville. This man ought to be as strong in the back as a mule, or the sire of a mule, or it would crack with the weight of places and offices. He rose, however, without feeling any incumbrance, full master of his weight; and thus said this noble Lord to t'other noble Lord!

"The patriotic and manly manner in which the noble Lord has declared his sentiments on the subject of the constitution, demands my cordial approbation. The noble Viscount has proved, that however we may differ on particular measures, amidst all the jars and dissonance of parties, we are unanimous in principle. There is a perfect and entire consent [between us] in the love and maintenance of the constitution as happily subsisting. It must undoubtedly give your Lordships concern, to find that the time is come [heigh ho!] when there is propriety in the expressions of regard to [o! o! o!] the constitution. And that there are men [confound—their—po-li-tics] who disseminate doctrines hostile to the genuine spirit of our well balanced system, [it is certainly well balanced when both sides hold places and pensions at once.] I agree with the noble viscount that they have not [I hope] much success. I am convinced that there is no danger to be apprehended from their attempts: but it is truly important and consolatory [to us placemen, I suppose] to know, that if ever there should arise a serious alarm, there is but one spirit, one sense, [and that sense I presume is not common sense] and one determination in this house "—which undoubtedly is to hold all their places and pensions as long as they can.

Both those speeches (except the parts enclosed in parenthesis, which are added for the purpose of illustration) are copied verbatim from the Morning Chronicle of the 1st of February last; and when the situation of the speakers is considered, the one in the opposition, and the other in the ministry, and both of them living at the public expence, by sinecure, or nominal places and offices, it required a very unblushing front to be able to deliver them. Can those men seriously suppose any nation to be so completely blind as not to see through them? Can Stormont imagine that the political cant, with which he has larded his harangue, will conceal the craft? Does he not know that there never was a cover large enough to hide itself? Or can Grenvilie believe that his credit with the public encreases with his avarice for places?

But, if these orators will accept a service from me, in return for the allusions they have made to the Rights of Man, I will make a speech for either of them to deliver, on the excellence of the constitution, that shall be as much to the purpose as what they have spoken, or as Bolingbroke's captivating eulogium. Here it is.

"That we shall all be unanimous in expressing our attachment to the constitution, I am confident. It is, my Lords, incomprehensibly good: but the great wonder of all is the wisdom; for it is, my lords, the wisest system that ever was formed.

"With respect to us, noble Lords, though the world does not know it, it is very well known to us, that we have more wisdom than we know what to do with; and what is still better, my Lords, we have it all in stock. I defy your Lordships to prove, that a tittle of it has been used yet; and if we but go on, my Lords, with the frugality we have hitherto done, we shall leave to our heirs and successors, when we go out of the world, the whole stock of wisdom, untouched, that we brought in; and there is no doubt but they will follow our example. This, my lords, is one of the blessed effects of the hereditary system; for we can never be without wisdom so long as we keep it by us, and do not use it.

"But, my Lords, as all this wisdom is hereditary property, for the sole benefit of us and our heirs, and it is necessary that the people should know where to get a supply for their own use, the excellence of our constitution has provided us a King for this very purpose, and for no other. But, my Lords, I perceive a defect to which the constitution is subject, and which I propose to remedy by bringing a bill into Parliament for that purpose.

"The constitution, my Lords, out of delicacy, I presume, has left it as a matter of choice to a King whether he will be wise or not. It has not, I mean, my Lords, insisted upon it as a constitutional point, which, I conceive it ought to have done; for I pledge myself to your Lordships to prove, and that with true patriotic boldness, that he has no choice in the matter. This bill, my Lords, which I shall bring in, will be to declare, that the constitution, according to the true intent and meaning thereof, does not invest the King with this choice; our ancestors were too wise to do that; and, in order to prevent any doubts that might otherwise arise, I shall prepare, my Lords, an enacting clause, to fix the wisdom of Kings by act of Parliament; and then, my Lords our Constitution will be the wonder of the world!

"Wisdom, my lords, is the one thing needful: but that there may be no mistake in this matter, and that we may proceed consistently with the true wisdom of the constitution, I shall propose a certain criterion whereby the exact quantity of wisdom necessary for a King may be known. [Here should be a cry of, Hear him! Hear him!]

"It is recorded, my Lords, in the Statutes at Large of the Jews, 'a book, my Lords, which I have not read, and whose purport I know only by report,' but perhaps the bench of Bishops can recollect something about it, that Saul gave the most convincing proofs of royal wisdom before he was made a King, for he was sent to seek his father's asses and he could not find them.

"Here, my Lords, we have, most happily for us, a case in point: This precedent ought to be established by act of Parliament; and every King, before he be crowned, should be sent to seek his father's asses, and if he cannot find them, he shall be declared wise enough to be King, according to the true meaning of our excellent constitution. All, therefore, my Lords, that will be necessary to be done by the enacting clause that I shall bring in, will be to invest the King beforehand with the quantity of wisdom necessary for this purpose, lest he should happen not to possess it; and this, my Lords, we can do without making use of any of our own.

"We further read, my Lords, in the said Statutes at Large of the Jews, that Samuel, who certainly was as mad as any Man-of-Rights-Man now-a-days (hear him! hear him!), was highly displeased, and even exasperated, at the proposal of the Jews to have a King, and he warned them against it with all that assurance and impudence of which he was master. I have been, my Lords, at the trouble of going all the way to Paternoster-row, to procure an extract from the printed copy. I was told that I should meet with it there, or in Amen-eorner, for I was then going, my Lords, to rummage for it among the curiosities of the Antiquarian Society. I will read the extracts to your Lordships, to shew how little Samuel knew of the matter.

"The extract, my Lords, is from 1 Sam. chap. viii.:

"'And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a King.

"'And he said, this will be the manner of the King that shall reign over you: he will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.

"'And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties, and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

"'And he will take your daughters to be confectionnes, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

"'And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your olive-yards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

"'And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers and to his servants.

"'And he will take your men-servants, and your maid-servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

"'And he will take the tenth of your sheep, and ye shall be his servants.

"'And ye shall cry out in that day, because of your King, which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.'

"Now, my Lords, what can we think of this man Samuel? Is there a word of truth, or any thing like truth, in all that he has said? He pretended to be a prophet, or a wise man, but has not the event proved him to be a fool, or an incendiary? Look around, my Lords, and see if any thing has happened that he pretended to foretell! Has not the most profound peace reigned throughout the world ever since Kings were in fashion? Are not, for example, the present Kings of Europe the most peaceable of mankind, and the Empress of Russia the very milk of human kindness? It would not be worth having Kings, my Lords, if it were not that they never go to war.

"If we look at home, my Lords, do we not see the same things here as are seen every where else? Are our young men taken to be horsemen, or foot soldiers, any more than in Germany or in Prussia, or in Hanover or in Hesse? Are not our sailors as safe at land as at sea? Are they ever dragged from their homes, like oxen to the slaughter-house, to serve on board ships of war? When they return from the perils of a long voyage with the merchandize of distant countries, does not every man sit down under his own vine and his own fig-tree, in perfect security? Is the tenth of our seed taken by tax-gatherers, or is any part of it given to the King's servants? In short, is not everything as free from taxes as the light from Heaven! (1)

"Ah! my Lords, do we not see the blessed effect of having Kings in every thing we look at? Is not the G. R., or the broad R., stampt upon every thing? Even the shoes, the gloves, and the hats that we wear, are enriched with the impression, and all our candles blaze a burnt-offering.

"Besides these blessings, my Lords, that cover us from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head, do we not see a race of youths growing up to be Kings, who are the very paragons of virtue? There is not one of them, my Lords, but might be trusted with untold gold, as safely as the other. Are they not 'more sober, intelligent, more solid, more steady,' and withal, more learned, more wise, more every thing, than any youths we 'ever had the fortune to see.' Ah! my Lords, they are a hopeful family.

"The blessed prospect of succession, which the nation has at this moment before its eyes, is a most undeniable proof of the excellence of our constitution, and of the blessed hereditary system; for nothing, my Lords, but a constitution founded on the truest and purest wisdom could admit such heaven-born and heaven-taught characters into the government.—Permit me now, my Lords, to recal your attention to the libellous chapter I have just read about Kings. I mention this, my Lords, because it is my intention to move for a bill to be brought into parliament to expunge that chapter from the Bible, and that the Lord Chancellor, with the assistance of the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, and the Duke of Clarence, be requested to write a chapter in the room of it; and that Mr. Burke do see that it be truly canonical, and faithfully inserted."—Finis.

1 Allusion to the window-tax.—Editor,

If the Clerk of the Court of King's Bench should chuse to be the orator of this luminous encomium on the constitution, I hope he will get it well by heart before he attempts to deliver it, and not have to apologize to Parliament, as he did in the case of Bolingbroke's encomium, for forgetting his lesson; and, with this admonition I leave him.

Having thus informed the Addressers of what passed at the meeting of Parliament, I return to take up the subject at the part where I broke off in order to introduce the preceding speeches.

I was then stating, that the first policy of the Government party was silence, and the next, clamorous contempt; but as people generally choose to read and judge for themselves, the work still went on, and the affectation of contempt, like the silence that preceded it, passed for nothing.

Thus foiled in their second scheme, their evil genius, like a will-with-a-wisp, led them to a third; when all at once, as if it had been unfolded to them by a fortune-teller, or Mr. Dundas had discovered it by second sight, this once harmless, insignificant book, without undergoing the alteration of a single letter, became a most wicked and dangerous Libel. The whole Cabinet, like a ship's crew, became alarmed; all hands were piped upon deck, as if a conspiracy of elements was forming around them, and out came the Proclamation and the Prosecution; and Addresses supplied the place of prayers.

Ye silly swains, thought I to myself, why do you torment yourselves thus? The Rights OF Man is a book calmly and rationally written; why then are you so disturbed? Did you see how little or how suspicious such conduct makes you appear, even cunning alone, had you no other faculty, would hush you into prudence. The plans, principles, and arguments, contained in that work, are placed before the eyes of the nation, and of the world, in a fair, open, and manly manner, and nothing more is necessary than to refute them. Do this, and the whole is done; but if ye cannot, so neither can ye suppress the reading, nor convict the author; for the Law, in the opinion of all good men, would convict itself, that should condemn what cannot be refuted.

Having now shown the Addressers the several stages of the business, prior to their being called upon, like Caesar in the Tyber, crying to Cassius, "help, Cassius, or I sink!" I next come to remark on the policy of the Government, in promoting Addresses; on the consequences naturally resulting therefrom; and on the conduct of the persons concerned.

With respect to the policy, it evidently carries with it every mark and feature of disguised fear. And it will hereafter be placed in the history of extraordinary things, that a pamphlet should be produced by an individual, unconnected with any sect or party, and not seeking to make any, and almost a stranger in the land, that should compleatly frighten a whole Government, and that in the midst of its most triumphant security. Such a circumstance cannot fail to prove, that either the pamphlet has irresistible powers, or the Government very extraordinary defects, or both. The nation exhibits no signs of fear at the Rights of Man; why then should the Government, unless the interest of the two are really opposite to each other, and the secret is beginning to be known? That there are two distinct classes of men in the nation, those who pay taxes, and those who receive and live upon the taxes, is evident at first sight; and when taxation is carried to excess, it cannot fail to disunite those two, and something of this kind is now beginning to appear.

It is also curious to observe, amidst all the fume and bustle about Proclamations and Addresses, kept up by a few noisy and interested men, how little the mass of the nation seem to care about either. They appear to me, by the indifference they shew, not to believe a word the Proclamation contains; and as to the Addresses, they travel to London with the silence of a funeral, and having announced their arrival in the Gazette, are deposited with the ashes of their predecessors, and Mr. Dundas writes their hic facet.

One of the best effects which the Proclamation, and its echo the Addresses have had, has been that of exciting and spreading curiosity; and it requires only a single reflection to discover, that the object of all curiosity is knowledge. When the mass of the nation saw that Placemen, Pensioners, and Borough-mongers, were the persons that stood forward to promote Addresses, it could not fail to create suspicions that the public good was not their object; that the character of the books, or writings, to which such persons obscurely alluded, not daring to mention them, was directly contrary to what they described them to be, and that it was necessary that every man, for his own satisfaction, should exercise his proper right, and read and judge for himself.

But how will the persons who have been induced to read the Rights of Man, by the clamour that has been raised against it, be surprized to find, that, instead of a wicked, inflammatory work, instead of a licencious and profligate performance, it abounds with principles of government that are uncontrovertible—with arguments which every reader will feel, are unanswerable—with plans for the increase of commerce and manufactures—for the extinction of war—for the education of the children of the poor—for the comfortable support of the aged and decayed persons of both sexes—for the relief of the army and navy, and, in short, for the promotion of every thing that can benefit the moral, civil, and political condition of Man.

Why, then, some calm observer will ask, why is the work prosecuted, if these be the goodly matters it contains? I will tell thee, friend; it contains also a plan for the reduction of Taxes, for lessening the immense expences of Government, for abolishing sinecure Places and Pensions; and it proposes applying the redundant taxes, that shall be saved by these reforms, to the purposes mentioned in the former paragraph, instead of applying them to the support of idle and profligate Placemen and Pensioners.

Is it, then, any wonder that Placemen and Pensioners, and the whole train of Court expectants, should become the promoters of Addresses, Proclamations, and Prosecutions? or, is it any wonder that Corporations and rotten Boroughs, which are attacked and exposed, both in the First and Second Parts of Rights of Man, as unjust monopolies and public nuisances, should join in the cavalcade? Yet these are the sources from which Addresses have sprung. Had not such persons come forward to oppose the Rights of Man, I should have doubted the efficacy of my own writings: but those opposers have now proved to me that the blow was well directed, and they have done it justice by confessing the smart.

The principal deception in this business of Addresses has been, that the promoters of them have not come forward in their proper characters. They have assumed to pass themselves upon the public as a part of the Public, bearing a share of the burthen of Taxes, and acting for the public good; whereas, they are in general that part of it that adds to the public burthen, by living on the produce of the public taxes. They are to the public what the locusts are to the tree: the burthen would be less, and the prosperity would be greater, if they were shaken off.

"I do not come here," said Onslow, at the Surry County meeting, "as the Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum of the county, but I come here as a plain country gentleman." The fact is, that he came there as what he was, and as no other, and consequently he came as one of the beings I have been describing. If it be the character of a gentleman to be fed by the public, as a pauper is by the parish, Onslow has a fair claim to the title; and the same description will suit the Duke of Richmond, who led the Address at the Sussex meeting. He also may set up for a gentleman.

As to the meeting in the next adjoining county (Kent), it was a scene of disgrace. About two hundred persons met, when a small part of them drew privately away from the rest, and voted an Address: the consequence of which was that they got together by the ears, and produced a riot in the very act of producing an Address to prevent Riots.

That the Proclamation and the Addresses have failed of their intended effect, may be collected from the silence which the Government party itself observes. The number of addresses has been weekly retailed in the Gazette; but the number of Addressers has been concealed. Several of the Addresses have been voted by not more than ten or twelve persons; and a considerable number of them by not more than thirty. The whole number of Addresses presented at the time of writing this letter is three hundred and twenty, (rotten Boroughs and Corporations included) and even admitting, on an average, one hundred Addressers to each address, the whole number of addressers would be but thirty-two thousand, and nearly three months have been taken up in procuring this number. That the success of the Proclamation has been less than the success of the work it was intended to discourage, is a matter within my own knowledge; for a greater number of the cheap edition of the First and Second Parts of the Rights OF Man has been sold in the space only of one month, than the whole number of Addressers (admitting them to be thirty-two thousand) have amounted to in three months.

It is a dangerous attempt in any government to say to a Nation, "thou shalt not read." This is now done in Spain, and was formerly done under the old Government of France; but it served to procure the downfall of the latter, and is subverting that of the former; and it will have the same tendency in all countries; because thought by some means or other, is got abroad in the world, and cannot be restrained, though reading may.

If Rights of Man were a book that deserved the vile description which the promoters of the Address have given of it, why did not these men prove their charge, and satisfy the people, by producing it, and reading it publicly? This most certainly ought to have been done, and would also have been done, had they believed it would have answered their purpose. But the fact is, that the book contains truths which those time-servers dreaded to hear, and dreaded that the people should know; and it is now following up the,


Addresses in every part of the nation, and convicting them of falsehoods.

Among the unwarrantable proceedings to which the Proclamation has given rise, the meetings of the Justices in several of the towns and counties ought to be noticed.. Those men have assumed to re-act the farce of General Warrants, and to suppress, by their own authority, whatever publications they please. This is an attempt at power equalled only by the conduct of the minor despots of the most despotic governments in Europe, and yet those Justices affect to call England a Free Country. But even this, perhaps, like the scheme for garrisoning the country by building military barracks, is necessary to awaken the country to a sense of its Rights, and, as such, it will have a good effect.

Another part of the conduct of such Justices has been, that of threatening to take away the licences from taverns and public-houses, where the inhabitants of the neighbourhood associated to read and discuss the principles of Government, and to inform each other thereon. This, again, is similar to what is doing in Spain and Russia; and the reflection which it cannot fail to suggest is, that the principles and conduct of any Government must be bad, when that Government dreads and startles at discussion, and seeks security by a prevention of knowledge.

If the Government, or the Constitution, or by whatever name it be called, be that miracle of perfection which the Proclamation and the Addresses have trumpeted it forth to be, it ought to have defied discussion and investigation, instead of dreading it. Whereas, every attempt it makes, either by Proclamation, Prosecution, or Address, to suppress investigation, is a confession that it feels itself unable to bear it. It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from enquiry. All the numerous pamphlets, and all the newspaper falsehood and abuse, that have been published against the Rights of Man, have fallen before it like pointless arrows; and, in like manner, would any work have fallen before the Constitution, had the Constitution, as it is called, been founded on as good political principles as those on which the Rights OF Man is written.

It is a good Constitution for courtiers, placemen, pensioners, borough-holders, and the leaders of Parties, and these are the men that have been the active leaders of Addresses; but it is a bad Constitution for at least ninety-nine parts of the nation out of an hundred, and this truth is every day making its way.

It is bad, first, because it entails upon the nation the unnecessary expence of supporting three forms and systems of Government at once, namely, the monarchical, the aristocratical, and the democratical.

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