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I think it necessary
that Louis XVI. should be tried; not that this advice is suggested by
a spirit of vengeance, but because this measure appears to me just,
lawful, and conformable to sound policy. If Louis is innocent, let us
put him to prove his innocence; if he is guilty, let the national will
determine whether he shall be pardoned or punished.

But besides the motives personal to Louis XVI., there are others which
make his trial necessary. I am about to develope these motives, in the
language which I think expresses them, and no other. I forbid myself the
use of equivocal expression or of mere ceremony. There was formed among
the crowned brigands of Europe a conspiracy which threatened not only
French liberty, but likewise that of all nations. Every thing tends
to the belief that Louis XVI. was the partner of this horde of
conspirators. You have this man in your power, and he is at present the
only one of the band of whom you can make sure. I consider Louis XVI. in
the same point of view as the two first robbers taken up in the affair
of the Store Room; their trial led to discovery of the gang to which
they belonged. We have seen the unhappy soldiers of Austria, of Prussia,
and the other powers which declared themselves our enemies, torn from
their fire-sides, and drawn to butchery like wretched animals, to
sustain, at the cost of their blood, the common cause of these crowned
brigands. They loaded the inhabitants of those regions with taxes to
support the expenses of the war. All this was not done solely for Louis
XVI. Some of the conspirators have acted openly: but there is reason
to presume that this conspiracy is composed of two classes of brigands;
those who have taken up arms, and those who have lent to their cause
secret encouragement and clandestine assistance. Now it is indispensable
to let France and the whole world know all these accomplices.

A little time after the National Convention was constituted, the
Minister for Foreign Affairs presented the picture of all the
governments of Europe,--those whose hostilities were public, and those
that acted with a mysterious circumspection. This picture supplied
grounds for just suspicions of the part the latter were disposed to
take, and since then various circumstances have occurred to confirm
those suspicions. We have already penetrated into some part of the
conduct of Mr. Guelph, Elector of Hanover, and strong presumptions
involve the same man, his court and ministers, in quality of king
of England. M. Calonne has constantly been favoured with a friendly
reception at that court.(1) The arrival of Mr. Smith, secretary to Mr.
Pitt, at Coblentz, when the emigrants were assembling there; the recall
of the English ambassador; the extravagant joy manifested by the court
of St. James' at the false report of the defeat of Dumouriez, when
it was communicated by Lord Elgin, then Minister of Great Britain at
Brussels--all these circumstances render him [George III.] extremely
suspicious; the trial of Louis XVI. will probably furnish more decisive
proofs.

The long subsisting fear of a revolution in England, would alone, I
believe, prevent that court from manifesting as much publicity in its
operations as Austria and Prussia. Another reason could be added to
this: the inevitable decrease of credit, by means of which alone all
the old governments could obtain fresh loans, in proportion as the
probability of revolutions increased. Whoever invests in the new loans
of such governments must expect to lose his stock.

Every body knows that the Landgrave of Hesse fights only as far as he is
paid. He has been for many years in the pay of the court of London. If
the trial of Louis XVI. could bring it to light, that this detestable
dealer in human flesh has been paid with the produce of the taxes
imposed on the English people, it would be justice to that nation to
disclose that fact. It would at the same time give to France an exact
knowledge of the character of that court, which has not ceased to be the
most intriguing in Europe, ever since its connexion with Germany.

1 Calonne (1734-1802), made Controller General of the
Treasury in 1783, lavished the public money on the Queen, on
courtiers, and on himself (purchasing St. Cloud and
Rambouillet), borrowing vast sums and deceiving the King as
to the emptiness of the Treasury, the annual deficit having
risen in 1787 to 115 millions of francs. He was then
banished to Lorraine, whence he proceeded to England, where
he married the wealthy widow Haveley. By his agency for the
Coblentz party he lost his fortune. In 1802 Napoleon brought
him back from London to Paris, where he died the same year.
--_Editor._

Louis XVI., considered as an individual, is an object beneath the notice
of the Republic; but when he is looked upon as a part of that band of
conspirators, as an accused man whose trial may lead all nations in
the world to know and detest the disastrous system of monarchy, and the
plots and intrigues of their own courts, he ought to be tried.

If the crimes for which Louis XVI. is arraigned were absolutely personal
to him, without reference to general conspiracies, and confined to the
affairs of France, the plea of inviolability, that folly of the moment,
might have been urged in his behalf with some appearance of reason; but
he is arraigned not only for treasons against France, but for having
conspired against all Europe, and if France is to be just to all Europe
we ought to use every means in our power to discover the whole extent
of that conspiracy. France is now a republic; she has completed her
revolution; but she cannot earn all its advantages so long as she is
surrounded with despotic governments. Their armies and their marine
oblige her also to keep troops and ships in readiness. It is therefore
her immediate interest that all nations shall be as free as herself;
that revolutions shall be universal; and since the trial of Louis XVI.
can serve to prove to the world the flagitiousness of governments in
general, and the necessity of revolutions, she ought not to let slip so
precious an opportunity.

The despots of Europe have formed alliances to preserve their respective
authority, and to perpetuate the oppression of peoples. This is the end
they proposed to themselves in their invasion of French territory. They
dread the effect of the French revolution in the bosom of their own
countries; and in hopes of preventing it, they are come to attempt
the destruction of this revolution before it should attain its perfect
maturity. Their attempt has not been attended with success. France has
already vanquished their armies; but it remains for her to sound the
particulars of the conspiracy, to discover, to expose to the eyes of
the world, those despots who had the infamy to take part in it; and the
world expects from her that act of justice.

These are my motives for demanding that Louis XVI. be judged; and it is
in this sole point of view that his trial appears to me of sufficient
importance to receive the attention of the Republic.

As to "inviolability," I would not have such a word mentioned. If,
seeing in Louis XVI. only a weak and narrow-minded man, badly reared,
like all his kind, given, as it is said, to frequent excesses of
drunkenness--a man whom the National Assembly imprudently raised again
on a throne for which he was not made--he is shown hereafter some
compassion, it shall be the result of the national magnanimity, and not
the burlesque notion of a pretended "inviolability."

Thomas Paine.




XIV. REASONS FOR PRESERVING THE LIFE OF LOUIS CAPET,

As Delivered to the National Convention, January 15, 1703.(1)

Citizen President,

My hatred and abhorrence of monarchy are sufficiently known: they
originate in principles of reason and conviction, nor, except with life,
can they ever be extirpated; but my compassion for the unfortunate,
whether friend or enemy, is equally lively and sincere.

I voted that Louis should be tried, because it was necessary to afford
proofs to the world of the perfidy, corruption, and abomination of the
monarchical system. The infinity of evidence that has been produced
exposes them in the most glaring and hideous colours; thence it results
that monarchy, whatever form it may assume, arbitrary or otherwise,
becomes necessarily a centre round which are united every species of
corruption, and the kingly trade is no less destructive of all morality
in the human breast, than the trade of an executioner is destructive
of its sensibility. I remember, during my residence in another country,
that I was exceedingly struck with a sentence of M. Autheine, at the
Jacobins [Club], which corresponds exactly with my own idea,--"Make me a
king to-day," said he, "and I shall be a robber to-morrow."

1 Printed in Paris (Hartley, Adlard & Son) and published in
London with the addition of D. I. Eaton's name, in 1796.
While Paine was in prison, he was accused in England and
America of having helped to bring Louis XVI. to the
scaffold. The English pamphlet has a brief preface in which
it is presented "as a burnt offering to Truth, in behalf of
the most zealous friend and advocate of the Rights of Man;
to protect him against the barbarous shafts of scandal and
delusion, and as a reply to all the horrors which despots of
every description have, with such unrelenting malice,
attempted to fix on his conduct. But truth in the end must
triumph: cease then such calumnies: all your efforts are
in vain --you bite a file."--_Editor._

Nevertheless, I am inclined to believe that if Louis Capet had been born
in obscure condition, had he lived within the circle of an amiable and
respectable neighbourhood, at liberty to practice the duties of domestic
life, had he been thus situated, I cannot believe that he would have
shewn himself destitute of social virtues: we are, in a moment of
fermentation like this, naturally little indulgent to his vices, or
rather to those of his government; we regard them with additional
horror and indignation; not that they are more heinous than those of
his predecessors, but because our eyes are now open, and the veil of
delusion at length withdrawn; yet the lamentable, degraded state to
which he is actually reduced, is surely far less imputable to him
than to the Constituent Assembly, which, of its own authority, without
consent or advice of the people, restored him to the throne.

I was in Paris at the time of the flight, or abdication of Louis XVI.,
and when he was taken and brought back.



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