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If it be the character of a gentleman to be fed by
the public, as a pauper is by the parish, Onslow has a fair claim to the
title; and the same description will suit the Duke of Richmond, who led
the Address at the Sussex meeting. He also may set up for a gentleman.

As to the meeting in the next adjoining county (Kent), it was a scene of
disgrace. About two hundred persons met, when a small part of them drew
privately away from the rest, and voted an Address: the consequence of
which was that they got together by the ears, and produced a riot in the
very act of producing an Address to prevent Riots.

That the Proclamation and the Addresses have failed of their intended
effect, may be collected from the silence which the Government party
itself observes. The number of addresses has been weekly retailed in the
Gazette; but the number of Addressers has been concealed. Several of the
Addresses have been voted by not more than ten or twelve persons; and a
considerable number of them by not more than thirty. The whole number of
Addresses presented at the time of writing this letter is three hundred
and twenty, (rotten Boroughs and Corporations included) and even
admitting, on an average, one hundred Addressers to each address, the
whole number of addressers would be but thirty-two thousand, and nearly
three months have been taken up in procuring this number. That the
success of the Proclamation has been less than the success of the work
it was intended to discourage, is a matter within my own knowledge; for
a greater number of the cheap edition of the First and Second Parts of
the Rights OF Man has been sold in the space only of one month, than the
whole number of Addressers (admitting them to be thirty-two thousand)
have amounted to in three months.

It is a dangerous attempt in any government to say to a Nation, "_thou
shalt not read_." This is now done in Spain, and was formerly done under
the old Government of France; but it served to procure the downfall of
the latter, and is subverting that of the former; and it will have
the same tendency in all countries; because _thought_ by some means
or other, is got abroad in the world, and cannot be restrained, though
reading may.

If _Rights of Man_ were a book that deserved the vile description which
the promoters of the Address have given of it, why did not these men
prove their charge, and satisfy the people, by producing it, and reading
it publicly? This most certainly ought to have been done, and would also
have been done, had they believed it would have answered their purpose.
But the fact is, that the book contains truths which those time-servers
dreaded to hear, and dreaded that the people should know; and it is now
following up the,


ADDRESS TO ADDRESSERS.

Addresses in every part of the nation, and convicting them of
falsehoods.

Among the unwarrantable proceedings to which the Proclamation has given
rise, the meetings of the Justices in several of the towns and counties
ought to be noticed.. Those men have assumed to re-act the farce of
General Warrants, and to suppress, by their own authority, whatever
publications they please. This is an attempt at power equalled only by
the conduct of the minor despots of the most despotic governments in
Europe, and yet those Justices affect to call England a Free Country.
But even this, perhaps, like the scheme for garrisoning the country
by building military barracks, is necessary to awaken the country to a
sense of its Rights, and, as such, it will have a good effect.

Another part of the conduct of such Justices has been, that of
threatening to take away the licences from taverns and public-houses,
where the inhabitants of the neighbourhood associated to read and
discuss the principles of Government, and to inform each other thereon.
This, again, is similar to what is doing in Spain and Russia; and the
reflection which it cannot fail to suggest is, that the principles and
conduct of any Government must be bad, when that Government dreads and
startles at discussion, and seeks security by a prevention of knowledge.

If the Government, or the Constitution, or by whatever name it be
called, be that miracle of perfection which the Proclamation and
the Addresses have trumpeted it forth to be, it ought to have defied
discussion and investigation, instead of dreading it. Whereas, every
attempt it makes, either by Proclamation, Prosecution, or Address, to
suppress investigation, is a confession that it feels itself unable to
bear it. It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from enquiry. All
the numerous pamphlets, and all the newspaper falsehood and abuse, that
have been published against the Rights of Man, have fallen before it
like pointless arrows; and, in like manner, would any work have fallen
before the Constitution, had the Constitution, as it is called, been
founded on as good political principles as those on which the Rights OF
Man is written.

It is a good Constitution for courtiers, placemen, pensioners,
borough-holders, and the leaders of Parties, and these are the men that
have been the active leaders of Addresses; but it is a bad Constitution
for at least ninety-nine parts of the nation out of an hundred, and this
truth is every day making its way.

It is bad, first, because it entails upon the nation the unnecessary
expence of supporting three forms and systems of Government at once,
namely, the monarchical, the aristocratical, and the democratical.

Secondly, because it is impossible to unite such a discordant
composition by any other means than perpetual corruption; and therefore
the corruption so loudly and so universally complained of, is no
other than the natural consequence of such an unnatural compound of
Governments; and in this consists that excellence which the numerous
herd of placemen and pensioners so loudly extol, and which at the same
time, occasions that enormous load of taxes under which the rest of the
nation groans.

Among the mass of national delusions calculated to amuse and impose upon
the multitude, the standing one has been that of flattering them into
taxes, by calling the Government (or as they please to express it,
the English Constitution) "_the envy and the admiration of the world_"
Scarcely an Address has been voted in which some of the speakers have
not uttered this hackneyed nonsensical falsehood.

Two Revolutions have taken place, those of America and France; and both
of them have rejected the unnatural compounded system of the English
government. America has declared against all hereditary Government, and
established the representative system of Government only. France has
entirely rejected the aristocratical part, and is now discovering
the absurdity of the monarchical, and is approaching fast to the
representative system. On what ground then, do these men continue a
declaration, respecting what they call the _envy and admiration of other
nations_, which the voluntary practice of such nations, as have had the
opportunity of establishing Government, contradicts and falsifies. Will
such men never confine themselves to truth? Will they be for ever the
deceivers of the people?

But I will go further, and shew, that were Government now to begin in
England, the people could not be brought to establish the same system
they now submit to.

In speaking on this subject (or on any other) _on the pure ground
of principle_, antiquity and precedent cease to be authority, and
hoary-headed error loses its effect. The reasonableness and propriety of
things must be examined abstractedly from custom and usage; and, in this
point of view, the right which grows into practice to-day is as much a
right, and as old in principle and theory, as if it had the customary
sanction of a thousand ages. Principles have no connection with time,
nor characters with names.

To say that the Government of this country is composed of King, Lords,
and Commons, is the mere phraseology of custom. It is composed of
men; and whoever the men be to whom the Government of any country is
intrusted, they ought to be the best and wisest that can be found, and
if they are not so, they are not fit for the station. A man derives
no more excellence from the change of a name, or calling him King, or
calling him Lord, than I should do by changing my name from Thomas to
George, or from Paine to Guelph. I should not be a whit more able to
write a book because my name was altered; neither would any man, now
called a King or a lord, have a whit the more sense than he now has,
were he to call himself Thomas Paine.

As to the word "Commons," applied as it is in England, it is a term
of degradation and reproach, and ought to be abolished. It is a term
unknown in free countries.

But to the point.--Let us suppose that Government was now to begin in
England, and that the plan of Government, offered to the nation for its
approbation or rejection, consisted of the following parts:

First--That some one individual should be taken from all the rest of the
nation, and to whom all the rest should swear obedience, and never be
permitted to sit down in his presence, and that they should give to him
one million sterling a year.--That the nation should never after have
power or authority to make laws but with his express consent; and that
his sons and his sons' sons, whether wise or foolish, good men or
bad, fit or unfit, should have the same power, and also the same money
annually paid to them for ever.

Secondly--That there should be two houses of Legislators to assist in
making laws, one of which should, in the first instance, be entirely
appointed by the aforesaid person, and that their sons and their sons'
sons, whether wise or foolish, good men or bad, fit or unfit, should for
ever after be hereditary Legislators.

Thirdly--That the other house should be chosen in the same manner as the
house now called the House of Commons is chosen, and should be subject
to the controul of the two aforesaid hereditary Powers in all things.

It would be impossible to cram such a farrago of imposition and
absurdity down the throat of this or any other nation that was capable
of reasoning upon its rights and its interest.

They would ask, in the first place, on what ground of right, or on what
principle, such irrational and preposterous distinctions could, or ought
to be made; and what pretensions any man could have, or what services he
could render, to entitle him to a million a year?



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