THE WRITINGS OF THOMAS PAINE
By Thomas Paine
Collected And Edited By Moncure Daniel Conway
1779 - 1792
[Redactor's Note: Reprinted from the "The Writings of Thomas Paine Volume I" (1894 - 1896). The author's notes are preceded by a "*". A Table of Contents has been added for each part for the convenience of the reader which is not included in the printed edition. Notes are at the end of Part II. ]
XIII. RIGHTS OF MAN.
WHEN Thomas Paine sailed from America for France, in April, 1787, he was perhaps as happy a man as any in the world. His most intimate friend, Jefferson, was Minister at Paris, and his friend Lafayette was the idol of France. His fame had preceded him, and he at once became, in Paris, the centre of the same circle of savants and philosophers that had surrounded Franklin. His main reason for proceeding at once to Paris was that he might submit to the Academy of Sciences his invention of an iron bridge, and with its favorable verdict he came to England, in September. He at once went to his aged mother at Thetford, leaving with a publisher (Ridgway), his "Prospects on the Rubicon." He next made arrangements to patent his bridge, and to construct at Rotherham the large model of it exhibited on Paddington Green, London. He was welcomed in England by leading statesmen, such as Lansdowne and Fox, and above all by Edmund Burke, who for some time had him as a guest at Beaconsfield, and drove him about in various parts of the country. He had not the slightest revolutionary purpose, either as regarded England or France. Towards Louis XVI. he felt only gratitude for the services he had rendered America, and towards George III. he felt no animosity whatever. His four months' sojourn in Paris had convinced him that there was approaching a reform of that country after the American model, except that the Crown would be preserved, a compromise he approved, provided the throne should not be hereditary. Events in France travelled more swiftly than he had anticipated, and Paine was summoned by Lafayette, Condorcet, and others, as an adviser in the formation of a new constitution.
Such was the situation immediately preceding the political and literary duel between Paine and Burke, which in the event turned out a tremendous war between Royalism and Republicanism in Europe. Paine was, both in France and in England, the inspirer of moderate counsels. Samuel Rogers relates that in early life he dined at a friend's house in London with Thomas Paine, when one of the toasts given was the "memory of Joshua,"—in allusion to the Hebrew leader's conquest of the kings of Canaan, and execution of them. Paine observed that he would not treat kings like Joshua. "I 'm of the Scotch parson's opinion," he said, "when he prayed against Louis XIV.—`Lord, shake him over the mouth of hell, but don't let him drop!'" Paine then gave as his toast, "The Republic of the World,"—which Samuel Rogers, aged twenty-nine, noted as a sublime idea. This was Paine's faith and hope, and with it he confronted the revolutionary storms which presently burst over France and England.
Until Burke's arraignment of France in his parliamentary speech (February 9, 1790), Paine had no doubt whatever that he would sympathize with the movement in France, and wrote to him from that country as if conveying glad tidings. Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution in France" appeared November 1, 1790, and Paine at once set himself to answer it. He was then staying at the Angel Inn,