STRICKLAND CLASSICS—No. C
• r 737 1809)
fcdited and Adapted bv Guv A. Aldred 'rom rhr Biography Written and Pub
With SAMPSON PERRY'S ARGUS 1796 Account of Thomas Paine and his Imprisonment in the Luxembourg.
PRICfc. - - fWOPENCF,
Glasgow, 1940 Strickland Press }.U4 George Street, C.L
I his biograph> is adapted fri>m the "life" rirst', published by Richard Carli'.e. Panto's famous publisher and admirei in 1819. Ii \\«»s dated front Dorchester Caol. No\ ember 20. of that year. A later version, prefixed In Carli'e. to his edition oi Pain?'s Aof Reasai. included considerable vaiia;i:»n*. In the main. C'arlik* improper the !ex! of his oiigina! biography. I have compared the t\v<» tex.s and sometimes combined them: sometimes followed the firs'. bu:. usnallv the later version.
The wht»!e es<a\ 1m been abridged, and some passages have been altered to suit the later time and different publishing circumstances,
Monrure I) Conway, in his famous biography, describes Paine as "the greatest Commoner of Mankind, Founder of the Republic of the World, and emancipator of the human mind and heart "
The "ArguV article, which forms the appendix, »s an account of fame's imprisonment, with an appreciation of his writings and character, by Sampson Perry, his fellow -prisoner.
Perry, like Paine, fled to France to escape imprisonment. He had been but some short time there when ho was arrested under Robespierre's decree as being an Englishman.
The Argus is extremely rare and was represented at the Paine Exhibition of 1894 by nothing more than the title page Conway was unaware of this account of Fame's life in France.
Guy A. A Id red
Glasgow, September 29, 1940.
The present memoir is not published as a thing altogether necessary or what was much wanted; but because it is usual and fitting when considering the in-f;uence of an author to accompany the study with a brie? account of his life. On such an occasion, it is unbecoming to set forth either the adulation of friends or the slander of enemies. Tales about what he was or what he did must be cited with caution and considered only in so far as they throw light upon the utility or non-utility of his li.'e. For when an author has passed the bar of nature, it behoves us to form our judgement of the man, not from gossip and prying into his personal habits, but from considering the nature of his public activity, and the writings he has leTt fcehind him. Our business is wtth the mind: with the sp'.rit or the immortal parr of the man, if his work and thought be calculated to lender h'.m immortal. We have nothing to do with the body and its passions, which are mortal, private, and corruptible, and are lost in the common mass of regenerating matter. Whilst the man is living, we are not justified in discussing his example to see if it corresponds with his precept, unless it affects the welfare of the. community in such a way that we are compelled to express an opinion. It is impossible to judge, usually, without being unjust or to consider without being scandalous. And so judgement of the living is wrong.. But when a man is dead, hi3 work and thought must stand or fall by the test of reason and the knowledge of the age. The present a^e mav be called that of the proletarian republic; and to the wisdom of its pioneers is submitted for consideration what every enquirer after truth requires an unvarnished or Impartial statement
Thomas Paine was born at Thetford, in the county of Norfolk, in England, on the 23th of January, 1737 He received such education as the town could afford him,, until he was thirteen years of age, when his father, who was a staymakcr, took him upon tne shop-board Before his twentieth year, he set out for London to work as a journeyman, and from London to the coast of Kent Here he became inflamed with the desire of a trip to sca% and he accordingly served in two privateers,but was prevailed upon by thj affectionate remonstrances of his lather, who had been bred a Quaker, to relinquish the sea-faring life. He then set up as a master staymaker at Sandwich, in the county of Kent, when he was about twenty-three years of age. It appears that he had a thorough distaste for this trade, and, having married the daughter of an exciseman, he soon began to turn his attention to that office Having quaificd himself he soon got appointed; but from some unknown cause his commission scarcely exceeded a year. He then filled the office of an usher at two different schools in the suburbs of London, and by his assiduous application to study, and by his regulai attendance at certain astronomical and mathematical lectures in London, he became a proficient in those sciences. From this moment his mind, which was correct and sound in its grasp of first principles, began to expand and here that lustre began to sparkle, which subsequently burst into a blaze, and gave light to the world.
He again obtained an appointment in the Excise, and was stationed at Lewes in Sussex. Here he began his career as an author. His fame spread because of his poetical productions : The Death of Wolfe, a song; and a humourous narrative about The Three Justices and Farmer Short's Dog. Consequently, he was selected by the body of excisemen to draw up the Case of the Officers of Excise in support of a petition they were about to present to parliament for an increase of. salary. This work secured Paine an introduction to Oliver Goldsmith, with whom he continued on terms of intimacy during his stay in England.
Paine wan twice-married, but obtained no children. The company of his first wife he enjoyed but a short time, and with his second wife be was ill-matched, as they never cohabited, and before he left England they separated by mutual consent and by articles of agreement. To his friends he would say that he found sufficient cause for this cuiious incident, but he never divulged the particulars to any person, and, when pressed to the point, would answer that it was nobody's business but his own.
In the autumn of 1774, being again out of the Excise, he was introduced to Di. Franklin, then on an embassy to England respecting the dispute with the colonies Franklin urged Paine to visit America and gave him letters of recommendation to several friends Paine sailed immediately, and reached Philadelphia just before Christmas
In January he became acquainted with a bookseller named Aitkin, who started the Pennsylvania Magazine for the purpose of availing himself of Paine's talents.
Paine now took a leading part in the politics of the Colonies, and was the first to advise the Americans to assert theii independence in his famous pamphlet Common Sense. This pamphlet appeared at the commencement of the year 1776, on the very day that the King of England's speech reached the United States. In that speech the Americans were denounced as rebels and traitois, and the right of the Legislature of England to bind the Colonies in all cases whatsoever, asserted
On the 4th of July, in the same year, the Independence of the United States was declared Paine held no rank in the tebel army, but assisted its operations with his advice and presence as a private individual He acted as a sort of literary and friendly aide-de-ci&mp to different generals. In particular, he mentions serving General Greene in this capacity.
Whilst with the army he began, in December of the same year, to publish his papers entitled The Crisis. They bore the signature of "Common Sense," and appeared every three or four months until the struggle was over
In 1777, Paine was appointed to fill the office of Secretary to the Committee of the Congress for Foreign
Affairs. He continued in this office two years, a no resigned in consequence of his exposure of the speculation committed by Silas Dean?, who had been sent to Europe as a Commissioner from the United States. Paine published the particulars in thi newspapers and availed himself of official documents. This was contrary to the etiquette of office and gave offence to some members of Congress. Silas Deane and his friends complained and threatened. Congress showed a dis position to censure! Paine without giving him a heating He immediately pfotestcd against such a proceeding and went into retirement He carried no pique with him and continued to serve the cause of American Independence with his j>en a3 ardent as ever These services wert acknowledged by Congress at the close of the war by a grarit of three thousand dollars. He also obtained from the State of New York the confiscated estate of some traitoi tory and royalist, situate in New Roch-elle This estate contained three hundred acres of highly cultivated land, and a large and substantial stone-built house The State of Pennsylvania presented him with £500 sterling. Virginia decl'ned him a liberal gram by a majority of one vote,, on account of his pamphlet entitled Public Go5d
In 1781. Paine was despatched, in conjunction with Colonel Laurens, to Francs to raise a loan from that government. They succeeded in their object, and returned to America with two million and a half of livres in silver, and stores to the united value ot sixteen millions of livres. Six millions ware a present from France, and ten millions were borrowed from Holland on the security of France. Paine also discovered full proof of the traitorous conduct of Silas Deane; and on his return to America, justified his previous exposure. Deane was obliged to shelter himself »in England from the punishment due to his crimes
Paine considered that ithe cause of American Independence made him an author. He considered his previous work of too small import to entitle him to that description. He had no idea of writing for writing's sake. He studied men and things in preference to books: thought and compared as well as read: and meas-
ured the value of literature by its service to humanity. He believed in the idealism of usefulness.
During the struggle for Independence, the Abb6 Rav-nal \vT0:e and published his Reflections on the struggle. Paine rep.ied to his mis-statements in a striking lettei!, in which he drew the folk)wing picture of Prejudice: "There is something exceedingly curious in the constitution and operation of prejudice. It has the singu'ar ability of accommodating it sell to ail the possible varieti-. es of the human mind. Some passions and vices are but thinly scattered among mankind, and find only here and there a fitness 0f reception. But prejudice, like the spider, makes everywhere its home. It has neither taste nor choice of place, and all that it requires is room. There is scarcely a situation except fire or water in which a spider wi-l not live. So let the mind be as naked as the walls of an empty and forsaken tenement, gloomy as a dungeon, or ornamented with the richest abilities of thinking, let it be hot or cold, dark or light, lonely or uninhabited, still prejudice if undisturbed, will fill it with cobwebs, and live like the spider where there seems nothing to live on. If the one prepares her food by poisoning it to her palate and her use, the other does the same, and as several of our passions are strongly characterised by the animal wprld, prejudice may be denominated the spider of the mind."
The end of the struggle for Independence permitted Paine to turn to his mechanical and philosophical studies. He was admitted a member of tne American Philosophical Society, and appointed Master of Arts by the University of Philadelphia.
In 1786, Paine published his Dissertation on Government, the Affairs of the Bank, and Paper Money. This pamphlet was an attack o^ Congress for withdrawing the charter of incorporation from the American Bank. This Bank was founded during the most critical days of the struggle solely for the carrying on of the war with' vigour, as a result of Paine' determination. He proposed a voluntary contribution to recruit the army, and sent his proposal, and five hundred dollars as a commencement, to his friend, M'Cienaghan. The proposal was instantly embraced, and such was the spirit by which it was followed, that the Congress established the leading subscribers into a Bank Company, and gave them a charter. Paine denounced its suppression as ingratitude dictated by party spleen.
In 1787, Paine returned to Europe. He proceeded first to Paris, where he exhibited a model of an iron bridge, which he presented to the Academy of Sciences, The famous iron bridge of one arch at Sunderland was the first result of this discovery. This bridge was cast at the foundry of Mr. Walker, at Rotherham, in Yorkshire, where Paine made his first experiment on an extensive scale. The iron bridge has superseded the more tedious and expensive method of building bridges with stone: but few poople reflect that Thomas Paine was the first to suggest and rcoommend its adoption. He borrowed the idea from seeing a certain species of spider spinning its web.
From Paris, Paine returned to England, after an absence 0f thirteen years, to find his father dead and his mother in distress. He hastened to Thetford to relieve her, and settled a small weekly sum upon her to make her comfortable. He spent a few weeks in his native town and wrote the pamphlet, entitled Prospects on thfc Rubicon, etc
Paine now retired to Rotherham for the purpose of trying his iron-bridge experiment on a large scale He detailed the success of this experiment in his letter to Sir George Staunton This letter was sent to the Society of Arts, in the Adelphi, and was about to be printed in their transactions, but the appearance of the First Part of the Rights of Man put a stop to its publication in that shaoe, and affords us a lesson that bigotry and prejudice form a woeful bar to science and improvement For the expense of this bridge he had drawn considerable sums from a Mr. Whiteside, an American merchant, on the security of his American property. This Mr. Whiteside becoming a bankrupt, Paine was suddenly arrested by his assignees, but soon liberated by two other American merchants becoming his bail until he could make arrangements for the necessary remittances from America.
Paine soon became acquainted with the leading poll-
tical characters in England, such as Burke and Home Tooke. Burke had been the opponent of the English Government during the American war and was admired as the advocate of constitutional freedom. Paine was drawn into his company and corresponded with him on the affairs of France. Richard Cariile saw an original letter of Burke's to a friend, wherein the writer expressed the high gratification he felt at having dined at the Duke of Portland's with Thomas Paine, the great political writer of the United States, and author of Common Sense. At this time Burke was in the employ of Pitt, who had found him venal. It had been agreed between them that Burke should receive a pension in a fictitious name, but outwardly continue his former char-acter, the better to learn the dispositions of the leaders in the Opposition, as to the principles they might imbibe from the American Revolution, and the approaching revolution in France. He collected, in this capacity, important documents on the affairs of France from Paine, which be handed over to the minister. And Paine never realised the mistake he had made in this man, until Pitt saw the necessity of availing himself of Burke's apostacy by getting him to make a violent attack upon tne revolution in the House of Commons, which bade his former associates to beware of him
Whether the English ministers had fQrmed a desire to corrupt Paine by inviting him to their tables is not known. It is certain that he was proof against such a design. Paine was superior to all monetary considerations, even in the nature of just reward, much less bribery. His American career found him constantly speaking and writing in opposition to his own financial interest. He refused to sell the copyright of the Second Part of the Rights of Man to Chapman, the printer, for £1,000. And he never sought profit from his writings. When he found that the Mfktl •! Mai had obtained a peculiar attraction, he gave up the copyright to whomsoever wonld print it. He contended that his writing a were works of principle, intended to ameliorate the condition of mankind, and as soon as published they were common propeity to anyone that thought proper to circulate them.
A further sign of Fame's independence was his refusal to allow any man to make the least alteration or even conection, in his writings. He carried this disposition so far as to refuse a friend the liberty to correct an avowed grammatical error. He would say that he only wished to be known as what he really was, without being decked with the plumes of another. Carlile admired and followed this part of Paine's principles absolutely and held the act to be furtive and criminal where one man pruned, mangled and altered the writings of another. It was a forgery and tended to misrepresent
Paine joined issue with Burke in his Rights of Man. The First Part has not that methodical arrangement which is to be found in the Second. But an apology arises for this defect, and that is, that Paine had to tread the "wilderness of rhapsodies'* that Burke had prepared for him Paine's simplicity and directness of style saves the path from tediousness.
Some difficulty was found in securing a publisher But at last one was found in Jordan, late of 163 Fleet' Street, and the First Part appeared on the 13th of March, 1791. The Government was paralysed at the rapid sale and an attempt was made to buy it up. The agents of the Government set to work to ridicule it, and fo call it a contemptible work. Whig and Tory politicians applauded our glorious constitution as something superior to the assaults of such a book. But it passed unnoticed as to prosecution, noi did Burke venture a reply, though he was mean enough to advise a criminal process against its author
The Second Part appeared on the. 16th of February in the following year. Its tremendous sale decided the Government to suppicss it Accordingly, in the month of May, the King issued his proclamation, and his Devil or Attorney-General his ex-officio information on the very same day, against the work. This impeded its circulation.
About this time, Paine wrote his Letter to the Addressers, and several letters to the chairmen of different county meetings at which those addressers were voted.
Paine had intended to take his trial and defend the publication of the Rights of Man in person; but in
the month of September, a deputation from the inhabitants of Calais waited upon him to say that they had elected him their deputy to the National Convention of France. This was an affair of more importance than supporting Rights of Man before a political judge and a packed jury, and, accordingly, he set off for France with the deputation; but not without being exposed to much insult at Dover, where the Government spies had apprised the Custom House officials of his arrival, and some of those spies were present to overhaul his papers. It was said that he had embarked but twenty minutes before a warrant came to Dover, from the Home Department, to arrest him. Be this as it may, Paine had more important scenes allotted to him. On reaching the opposite shore, ,he was received with acclamation as "the author of the Rights of Man, the object of the English Proclamation/* and elected Deputy for Abbeyville, Beauvais, and Versailles as well as for the department of Calais; but the electors of the latter p'ace having been the first in their choice he preferred being their representative.
On reaching Paris he addressed his famous letter to the English Attorney-General, which was cited at .the trial held in his absence as evidence of his seditious intentions. The prosecution was obliged to content itself with outlawing Paine and burning him in effigy throughout the country. In country districts his name became a substitute for that of Guy Fawkes. Many a faggot did Richard Carlile gather in his youth to burn old Tom Paine 1
Paine's strenuous opposition to the execution of Louis XVI. distinguished him as much as Marat's bold advocacy of the King's death marked out the People's Friend on the other side of the question. These two men were the heroes of the revolution. Paine was a Girondin, with all the virtue of those pure Republicans, and all their weaknesses in failing to exhibit a platform that secured justice to the producing but non-property holding masses. But he was the highest principled and clearest thinking member of his party. The manifesto issued by the Duke of Brunswick, in July 1792, had roused sjuth a spirit of hatned towards the Royal
Family of France, and alt other Royal Families, that nothing short of their utter destruction would appease the majority of the French nation. Paine willingly voted;* for the trial of Louis, as a necessary exposure of Court intrigue and corruption; but when he found a disposition to destroy him at once, in preference to banishment, he exposed the safety of his own person in his endeavour to save the life of Louis. The king's friends and supporters were afraid, in face of the public feeling, to vote to save the life of the man they were pledged to support. Marat voted for his death as a public enemy. And Paine, boldly braving the clamour, voted as distinctly and fearlessly for the king's life. His object was to destroy the monarchy but not the monarch.
jx>u:.s fell under the guillotine, and Paine's deprecation of that act, coupled -with the general failure of the Girondin policy, brought down upon him the hatred of the Jacobin party. Paine was excluded from the Convention and then thrown into prison. He was confined in the Luxembourg for about eleven months, during which time he was seized with the rr^st violent fever, that rendered him insensible to all that yas passing, and to which circumstance he attributes his escape from the' guillotine.
About this period he wrote his First and Second Parts of Age of Reason. The First Part was written before be went to the Luxembourg, as in his passage thither he deposited the manuscript with Joel Barlow. The Second Part he wrote. during his confinement, and at a moment when he could not calculate on the preservation of hi3 life for twenty-four hours—a circumstance which forms the best proof of his sincerity, and his conviction of the fallacy and imposture of all established religions.
Pious folk who have persistently slandered Paine as a disturber of religious opinion, persist in their malicious enterprise because they do not understand the purpose of its jxibiication. It was written in France expressly to stem the torrent of French Atheism, and to establish' the case for an Omnipotent Being. Its purpose was reactionary and bourgeois rather than radical and proletarian. That it was translated and reprinted in the
English language, and served a more Radical purpose than he intended, was not his fault It contained truth, and truth will not be confined to a nation nor to a continent, But it tend to fait as a standard criticism of superstition precisely because it is not Atheistic.
How little fanatical was Paine in his advocacy of anti-theological opinions appears in his Common Sense and other political writings, where he has recourse to' Bible phrases and arguments to illustrate some of fils positions. Had he published his Deistical opinions in these writings, he would have risked defeating the very purpose for which be wrote. And so he contented himself with hinting broadly that he had no superstition about him. He felt that it was the height of madness to urge religious dissension among the inhabitants of the United States during their hostile struggle for independence, Such was not the time to think about making Converts to religious opinions. And so he even used the cGmmon hack term ''Christian this" and "Christian that."
After the fall of Robespierre and his faction, and the arrival of Monroe from America,' Paine was released from prison and again took his seat in the Convention. He wrote his Dissertations on the First Principles of Government, and presented it to the Convention, accompanied with a speech, declaring the defects of the existing constitution
The rise of Bonaparte compelled Paine to enter into a retired life He saw but little Company and brooded over the misfoi tunes of the Republic. In this retirement he wrote two smaU pamphlets—Agrarian Justice Opposed to Agrarian Lav and Agrarian Monopoly :and the Decline and Fall of the English System of FinaiKle The first was a plan fot creating a fund in all societies, to give a certain sum of money to all young people about to enter into life, and to live by their own industry, and to make a provision for all old persons, or such as were past labour, so that their old age might be spent comfortably and serenely The second work was written in 1796, the year before the bank refused to pay its notes in gold. Paine foretold this event as one of the natural consequences of the funding system. Cobbett treated this pamphlet as a text-book for most of his treatises on finance. The profits arising from its sale were dev0ted to the relief of prisoners confined in Newgate for debt.
Paine lived on terms of closest intimacy with Washington up to the time that he quitted America in 1787 They corresponded up to the time of Paine's imprisonment under the Terror. But here a fatal breach took place. Washington was President of the United States at this time and John Adams Vice-President The latter was a puerile character who hated Paine for his republicanism and entered into every form of intrigue with the British Government to establish monarchy throughout the world. He had no wish to save Paine from his imprisonment. And somehow he so guided Washington, that the latter did not interfere. Whereas a word from Washington would have saved Paine from his imprisonment, since his only offence was that of having been born in England, although he had been outlawed in that country foi supporting France and the Republican ideal. This neglect drew from Paine on his release, a virulent letter to Washington in which the latter was denounced for his apathy. In this document, Paine unsavs all that he had written and spoken formerly in applause of Washington.
Paine found it impossible to do any good in France, and sighed for the shores of America. The English cruisers prevented his passing during the war; but immediately after the Peace of Amiens he embarked and reached his adopted country Here he published various letters and essays on the state of affairs and carried on a paper war with the Federalists. He found himself hated on account of his theological writings and bitterly denounced and detested by the Washington and Adams party. He was exposed to much bodily disease and lingering pain, but as vigorous as ever mentally. He was considerably annoyed and harassed by the religious fanatics, who pestered him with their importunities, but were dismayed by his sarcastic and withering replies. In Baltimore he was wavlaid by a preacher of the New Jerusalem Sect, named Hargrove, who claimed to have found the key to Scripture—lost above four thousand years' 4 Then it musi; have been very rusty," said Paine in dismissing the bore. In New York, whilst he was lodging with Jarvis. an old lady, habited in a scarlet cloak, secured admission to his room oil the ground that she wanted to sed him very particularly, and insisted on w&king him up fram his sleep to tell him .that God had sent her to call him to repentance! Paine ordefed her a\Vay, and t0ld hfcr that God sent no such impertinent message, and that he would not entrust his messages to tHe care of such a stupid, ugly, old woman
And so right Up to his death, at fe o'clock on the morning of June 8th, 1803, he icfused to have any of the Popish stuff About religion. Dr James R. Mantey, who attended him in his last illness, ahd slandefed him after his death, endeavoured to convert him But Paihc told him the day before his death that he had no wish to bc'ieve in Christianity. This was his last message Previous to this, knswerin^ the question ot his fnertds Thomas Nixon and Captain Danel Belton, he decWcd that he had no wish to change his religious opinions.
< Over and above what miejht have been expected of him, he was much concerned about his p'.ace ot burial. He requ~s+ed permi~s'on to be interned in the (Quakers4 Bunal Ground, saying that they were the most mofal atid upright sect bt Christians. But th's was peremptorily refused to him and gave him much unreasonable uneasiness. He then ordered his bo:dy to be interred on h's own farm, and a stone placed over it with the inscription-
Author ot 1
COMMON SENSE, D:ed June 8, 1809, aged 72 years and five months.
Little did Paine think, when giving this instruction, that the "Peter Porcupine" who had heaped so much abuse upon him, in the person of William Cobbett, wou'd so far renounce his former opinions and principles, as to resent the indifference paid to Paine by the majority of the inhabitants of the United States, and actually remove his bones to England.
REGISTER OF OCCURRENCES, MISCELLANYt
ETC, FOR 1796.
OF THOMAS PAINE AND HIS IMPRISONMENT IN THE LUXEMBOURG,
This studier of men, this reformer of Governments, was invited by the celebrity of his writings to sit in the National Convention of France It was impossible that experience and talents like his should not be found eminently serviceable to that nation in the establishing of a Constitution upon the rights of man He was immediately nominated one of the committee for drawing up the outlines of a constitutional form of government v to be laid befQre the legislature.
In this occupation he was the better able to demonstrate his fitness for the task, as two of his colleagues could speak English, for though Mr Paine could speak French, he is not capable of expressing his thought* upon any science in that language
This inflexible Republican may seem to have been lost for some time past; that, however, is not the case, and he has never been so great as since he has been less held up to the view of the world. The philosophic eye has at no time lost sight of him since he turned out the champion of his oppressed fellow-cieatures, but as if the regular governments had declared the
mention of his name a criminal irregularity, a dastardly silence has* been observed by political writers for these three years past, with respect to him, or his pursuits. The situation into which France was plunged by the number and power of its enemies, after England had joined the coalition, prevented the calm voice of the philanthropic politician from being heard. In the revolutionary storm when everyone in the republican bark was tempest tossed, it is no wonder that Paine himself could keep no reckoning. The horizon of France but little resembled that of America; all the elements were in confusion. He saw that a chaos would come again before order could be established: that chaos, that horrific gloom, perhaps, contributed more than any cause to keep the malignant enemies of the Revolution at a distance; for, however much her vaunting foes might boast of marching to Paris, it is almost a certainty that they would have been sorry had any enchantment suddenly tranported them there. Mr. Paine was attached to Brissot; and it was not unnatural that he should have been, considering the long acquaintance and intimate connection which had subsis'ed between them in America. Brissot cherished the ambitious wish of being the centre of the nation's applause, as La Fayette had done before. They had both seen, admired and envied Washington in America; they both hoped to be the Washington of France. A true republic has too many eminent men in it, to aHow anyone to be pre-eminent. The French knew well that such a republic as the United States of America could not long stand in the very heart of Europe. Federalization would have ended in participation. With the sincerest respect, therefore, for the talents, for the spendid talents of Mr. Paine, it may be allowed that the answer made by the President of the Convention to the deputation of Americans, who so honourably interceded for his liberty, deserved respect. "Thomas Paine (said hel deserves the solicitude you so laudably shew, as Americans, in his behalf. He has notably contributed to the liberties of the quarter of the world, but he has not so happily seized the genius of our revolution." This is no impeachment of the understanding of Mr. P.'s truly comprehensive mind. The variety of circumstances which' concuned to increase the danger, and magnify the diffi cuit.i?s of the French in changing their Government, would justify the assertion that a Solon, a F ycurgu*. a Numa, would all have been useless in the French Revolution. None but the French could effect a French Revolution, and nothing but a detestable coalition of twenty-one nations against France could have driven her into tho«:e. excesses whirh are so affertedlv deplored by their guilty authors. Whatever might be Mr Paine's claims to the esteem and hospitality of the country in which he was a friendly, an inviied sojourner, the letter of the decree against foreigners reached him, for he was bom in a countiy at war with France. It is true, America claimed him as one of her citizens, and would ii<> doubt have resented a violence offeied to him - .'after the death of a man his virtues arc properly appreciarcd); but this consideration weighed but little with Robespierre, who dictated that law, or at least directed its application to Paine and Cloot.
That same tyrant has more than once been heard to say: "America has no! clearly pronounccd her opinion conccrning the Fiench Revolution"; and it was owing to more consideiate men than he that America and Switzerland were to be counted among the friends to France. When Paine was arrested it was pleasing to sec so much respaet paid to insulted greatness by the administrators who had to perform the disagreeable task >(), Frenchmen! How little you are known! How much much you are misrepresented!) They accompanied h:m to the house of Joel Barlow, and others af his friends, and allowed him to take four hours in arranging his private affairs. He was conveyed to the Luxembourg prison, out of which so many distinguished characters were slaughtered, not at the desire of an offended nation, but at the dictum of a revengeful tyrant. In this prison Mr. Paine was seized with a ma'ignant and nervous fever, which enduied five weeks. At the crisis of ^his disorder the mandate for carrying a hundred and fifty prisoners to the revolutionary tribunal was out in force. Paine, was delirious whil°. the carts were loading with these victims; and he believes he owes his life to that very fever which appeared so near to take it away; for
«> seem?? his name was atterwara* tonne in rhe pro scrtption l«st
Mi Paine speaks gratefully of the kindness showi- him bv his fellow-prisoners of the same chambcr. during his severe malady, and especially after the skilful and voluntary assistance lent him by General O'Hara's surgeon confined in the Luxembourg He relates ar» anecdote of himself which may not be unworthy of repeating. An -Arret of the Committee of Public • Welfare had given directions to the administrators of the police, to enter th* prisons with additional guaids and dispossess "every prisoner ot his knives, forks and every other sharp instrument; as also to take the money from them This happened <« short time before Mr Fame's illness; and -as this ceremony was lepresented to him as an atrocious plundei in the dregs ot the municipality, he determined ce avert us eftect as tai as it concerned himself He oao ati. English banknote ot some value, and some guineas and gold com in his pockets, and as he conceived the visitors would rifle them, as well as his trunks vthough they did not do so by anyone; he took oft the lock trom the door and htd the whole ot what he had about him in its inside. He recovered his health—he tound his money, but missed about three hundred of his associate prisoners, who had been sent in crowds to the murderous tribunal, while he had been insensible of their oi his own danger. Mr. Paine was released very soon atter the fall ot Robespierre, and was requested to resume his seat in the Convention. He accepted of the invitation to prove that he bore no resentment, to France, or to the Assembly, because a tyrant had by art and hypocrisy assumed a despotic sway over the country to his and to others' oppression. His opinions in public and in private, since that period, have been valued and respected; they have not been given in vain. He has been the means of drawing closer the ties between America and France; and the Committees have at all times been eager to receive his ideas concerning che peace which must sooner or later take place under ^ne revolutionary labours of that indefatigable country.
Mr. Paine, as a tried friend to the liberty of mankind, may reasonably be supposed to take a hearty interest in an c\etvi which is to b? made conducive to :h«> ubtainnxni and durability of that blessing.
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