« НазадПродовжити »
seems extremely probable that his career may finish with that miserable end to which Providence generally permits the machinations of such men. to conduct them at last.’ * For the publication of those writings, the tendency of which is avowedly seditious, and of which there has been too much use made towards the disturbing of the domestic tranquillity of the British empire—our author has, since his retreat into France, been indićted at the instance of the king, as usual in such cases; tried at Guildhall, before Lord Kenyon; and found guilty by a very respectable jury, as the author and publisher of a book, called “Second Part of the Rights of Man, “ containing many false, wicked, scandalous, ma“ licious, and seditious assertions.” ‘It is scarcely necessary to add, that booksellers and other venders of Paine's works must see, by this verdić, that the laws of their country, if diligently enforced, are ready to punish them for so dishonest a traffic.’ * The reader of this plain, candid narrative, may judge for himself, whether Paine be a friend to Great Britain, or a man whose conduct he would choose to imitate, or whose advice he would follow in ordinary cases; and what reliance can be placed on the facts which he has boldly asserted as the ground work of most of his wild theories.’
Here ends the account of Paine's life, as I find it in print, and which, as I formerly observed, was published about the beginning of 1793. I shall now attempt a continuation of it down to the present time, dwelling on such parts only of his condućt as will admit of no dispute respecting facts.
Thomas's having merited death, or, at least, transportation in England, was a strong recommendation to him in France, whose newly enlightened inhabitants seem to have conceived a wonderful partial- H 3 - 1ty ity for all that's vile. Several of the departments disputed with each other the honour of having a convić for their representative; a thing not so much to be wondered at, when we recolle&t, that their wise rulers declared, by a decree, that the galleyslaves were all most excellent patriots, and that the hangman's was a post of honour. The exačt time of Tom's flight to this country of liberty and virtue is not mentioned, I believe, in the above account; but I recolle&t hearing his arrival talked of in the month of June, 1792. I had been on a trip from St. Omer's to Dunkirk, and on my return, I first heard the news anounced to a pretty numerous company in the canal stage. “Voi“la (says an old monk, who had been driven from his cell by the sans-culottes, and who was now looking over the gazette) “Voilà ce coquin de Paine “ quinous arrive de l’Angleterre.”*—“Ah, mon “ Dieu !” (exclaimed a well-dressed woman who was sitting beside me) “Ah, la pauvre France 1 Tous les “scélérats detous les pays de l'univers vont s'assem“bler chez nous.” The justness of this observation struck me at the time, and has often occurred to my memory since. Indeed, every man of infamous chara&ter, every felon and every traitor, began, at the time I am now speaking of, to look upon France as his home ; and this circumstance, better than any other, marks the true chara&ter of the revolution. The property of the nation was laid prostrate, and these villains were assembling round it, as birds of prey hover over an expiring Car CaSS. Whether Paine was really in France, or not, in June 1792, is inmaterial: it is certain that he took
* “Why, that rascal Paine is just arrived from England."
+ “Ah, my God! Ah, poor France All the scounurels from “all the countries in the universe are flocking amongst us.” - - his
his seat among that gang of blood thirsty tyrants,
usually called the Convention, just time enough to assist in proscribing that Constitution which he had written two whole books in defence of, and in conferring every epithet of ridicule and reproach on the Constituent Assembly, whom he had a few months before extolled, as “the most august, illu“minated and illuminating body of men on earth.” It was now that the English reformers and the democrats of America would have blushed, had not their fronts been covered with bull-hide, for the pompous eulogiums they had heaped on the author of the Rights of Man. The first job that Tom was set about, after the destruction of the Constitution, was, making another. This was a thing of course, for there is no such thing as living without constitutions now-adays. Thomas and his fellow journeymen, Brissot, Clavière, and about half a dozen others, fell to work, and, in a very few days, hammered out the clumsy, ill-proportioned devil of a thing, commonly called the Constitution of 1793. Of this ridiculous instrument I shall only observe, that, after being cried up by the American newspapers, as the masterpiece of legislative wisdom, it was rejected with every mark of contempt, even by the French themselves. What is too absurd for them to Swallow must be absurd indeed About the time that this constitution work was going on, the unfortunate king was brought to trial by his ten times perjured and rebellious subjects. Paine did not vote for his death, a circumstance that his friends produce as a proof of his justice and humanity, forgetting at the same time, that they thereby brand all those who did vote for it, with injustice and barbarity. However, upon closer inquiry, we shall find little reason for distinétions between Tom and his colleagues. He voted for the H 4 king's king's banishment, the banishment of a man perfeótly innocent, and it was owing merely to his being embarked with the faction of Brissot, instead of that of Danton, that he did not vote for his death. Brissot afterwards published, in the name of his whole party, the reasons why they looked on it as good policy not to put the king to death ; on these reasons was the vote of Paine founded, and not on his humanity or his justice. Pétion, the infamous Pétion de Villeneuve, did not vote for the king's death: yet certainly no one will believe that motives of justice or humanity restrained the man, who, after having plotted the insurrection of the tenth of August, brought it against the king as a crime, and who loaded the royal captives and their children with every insult and cruelty that the heart of an upstart savage tyrant could suggest. The whole process of the trial of the king of France, from the beginning to the end, was the most flagrant act of injustice that ever stained the annals of the world. It was well known to every one, and particularly to the audacious regicides themselves, that he was innocent of every crime laid to his charge. The sentence of banishment was therefore as unjust as that of death. Injustice is ever injustice: it may exist in different degrees, but it can never change its nature. Had Paine been a just and humane man, he would have stood up boldly in the defence of innocence, in place of sheltering himself under a vote for banishment. Banishment | Great God | Banishment on the head of the towering family of Bourbon, pronounced by a discarded English Exciseman —What must have been the feelings of this forsaken prince, who was once called the great and good ally of America, when he heard the word banishment / come from the lips of a wretch raised to notice by the success of a revolution of which he himself had been a Prio, pa
pal support l—I hope no such thought came athwart the mind of the unfortunate Louis ; if it did, certain I am it must have been ten million times more poignant than the pangs of death. However Paine might find it convenient to vote upon this occasion, it is certain he did not feel much horror at the murder of the benefactor of his “ be-, “loved America,” or he would not have remained with, and in the service of, his murderers. He was told this by his quondam friend Mr. King, in a letter sent him from England soon afterwards. “ If the French kill their king, it will be a signal for “ my departure, for I will not abide among such sanguinary men.—These, Mr. Paine, were your words at our last meeting ; yet, after this, you “ are not only with them, but the chief modeller “ of their new constitution, formed so heterogeneous and inconsistent, so hypothetical and contradićtory, as shows me, that provided your theories obtain fame, you are indifferent how the people may be disappointed in the pračtice of “ them.” Having introduced this correspondence here, it is a proper place for me to give the reader a striking proof of Thomas's disinterestedness, a quality for which he sets a very high value on himself. “Politics and self-interest” (says he, in the second part of what he calls his Rights of Man) “ have “ been so uniformly connected, that the world has a right to be suspicious of public characters : but, with regard to myself, I am perfectly easy on this * head. I did not, at my first setting out in public “ life, turn my thoughts on subjects of government from motives of self-interest: and my condućt from that moment to this proves the fact.”— After this bouncing outset, he goes on and tells his readers how disinterested he was in America, quite forgetting, however, to observe that he solicited, and