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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.




VIII. TO MR. SECRETARY DUNDAS.

Calais, Sept. 15, 1792.

Sir,

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.



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