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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.




IX. LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE ADDRESSERS ON THE LATE PROCLAMATION.(1)

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.



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