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The proposal of restoring him to
supreme power struck me with amazement; and although at that time I was
not a French citizen, yet as a citizen of the world I employed all the
efforts that depended on me to prevent it.

A small society, composed only of five persons, two of whom are
now members of the Convention,(1) took at that time the name of the
Republican Club (Société Républicaine). This society opposed the
restoration of Louis, not so much on account of his personal offences,
as in order to overthrow the monarchy, and to erect on its ruins the
republican system and an equal representation.

With this design, I traced out in the English language certain
propositions, which were translated with some trifling alterations, and
signed by Achille Duchâtelet, now Lieutenant-General in the army of the
French republic, and at that time one of the five members which composed
our little party: the law requiring the signature of a citizen at the
bottom of each printed paper.

1 Condorect and Paine; the other members were Achille
Duchitelet, and probably Nicolas de Bonneville and
Lanthenas,--translator of Paine's "Works."--_Editor._

The paper was indignantly torn by Malouet; and brought forth in this
very room as an article of accusation against the person who had signed
it, the author and their adherents; but such is the revolution of
events, that this paper is now received and brought forth for a very
opposite purpose--to remind the nation of the errors of that unfortunate
day, that fatal error of not having then banished Louis XVI. from its
bosom, and to plead this day in favour of his exile, preferable to his
death.

The paper in question, was conceived in the following terms:

[The address constitutes the first chapter of the present volume.]

Having thus explained the principles and the exertions of the
republicans at that fatal period, when Louis was rein-stated in
full possession of the executive power which by his flight had been
suspended, I return to the subject, and to the deplorable situation in
which the man is now actually involved.

What was neglected at the time of which I have been speaking, has been
since brought about by the force of necessity. The wilful, treacherous
defects in the former constitution have been brought to light; the
continual alarm of treason and conspiracy aroused the nation, and
produced eventually a second revolution. The people have beat down
royalty, never, never to rise again; they have brought Louis Capet to
the bar, and demonstrated in the face of the whole world, the intrigues,
the cabals, the falsehood, corruption, and rooted depravity, the
inevitable effects of monarchical government. There remains then only
one question to be considered, what is to be done with this man?

For myself I seriously confess, that when I reflect on the unaccountable
folly that restored the executive power to his hands, all covered as
he was with perjuries and treason, I am far more ready to condemn the
Constituent Assembly than the unfortunate prisoner Louis Capet.

But abstracted from every other consideration, there is one circumstance
in his life which ought to cover or at least to palliate a great number
of his transgressions, and this very circumstance affords to the French
nation a blessed occasion of extricating itself from the yoke of kings,
without defiling itself in the impurities of their blood.

It is to France alone, I know, that the United States of America owe
that support which enabled them to shake off the unjust and tyrannical
yoke of Britain. The ardour and zeal which she displayed to provide both
men and money, were the natural consequence of a thirst for liberty.
But as the nation at that time, restrained by the shackles of her own
government, could only act by the means of a monarchical organ, this
organ--whatever in other respects the object might be--certainly
performed a good, a great action.

Let then those United States be the safeguard and asylum of Louis Capet.
There, hereafter, far removed from the miseries and crimes of royalty,
he may learn, from the constant aspect of public prosperity, that the
true system of government consists not in kings, but in fair, equal, and
honourable representation.

In relating this circumstance, and in submitting this proposition, I
consider myself as a citizen of both countries. I submit it as a citizen
of America, who feels the debt of gratitude which he owes to every
Frenchman. I submit it also as a man, who, although the enemy of kings,
cannot forget that they are subject to human frailties. I support my
proposition as a citizen of the French republic, because it appears to
me the best, the most politic measure that can be adopted.

As far as my experience in public life extends, I have ever observed,
that the great mass of the people are invariably just, both in their
intentions and in their objects; but the true method of accomplishing an
effect does not always shew itself in the first instance. For example:
the English nation had groaned under the despotism of the Stuarts.
Hence Charles I. lost his life; yet Charles II. was restored to all
the plenitude of power, which his father had lost. Forty years had
not expired when the same family strove to reestablish their ancient
oppression; so the nation then banished from its territories the whole
race. The remedy was effectual. The Stuart family sank into obscurity,
confounded itself with the multitude, and is at length extinct.

The French nation has carried her measures of government to a greater
length. France is not satisfied with exposing the guilt of the monarch.
She has penetrated into the vices and horrors of the monarchy. She has
shown them clear as daylight, and forever crushed that system; and he,
whoever he may be, that should ever dare to reclaim those rights would
be regarded not as a pretender, but punished as a traitor.

Two brothers of Louis Capet have banished themselves from the country;
but they are obliged to comply with the spirit and etiquette of the
courts where they reside. They can advance no pretensions on their own
account, so long as Louis Capet shall live.

Monarchy, in France, was a system pregnant with crime and murders,
cancelling all natural ties, even those by which brothers are united. We
know how often they have assassinated each other to pave a way to power.
As those hopes which the emigrants had reposed in Louis XVI. are fled,
the last that remains rests upon his death, and their situation inclines
them to desire this catastrophe, that they may once again rally around
a more active chief, and try one further effort under the fortune of
the ci-devant Monsieur and d'Artois. That such an enterprize would
precipitate them into a new abyss of calamity and disgrace, it is not
difficult to foresee; yet it might be attended with mutual loss, and it
is our duty as legislators not to spill a drop of blood when our purpose
may be effectually accomplished without it.

It has already been proposed to abolish the punishment of death, and it
is with infinite satisfaction that I recollect the humane and excellent
oration pronounced by Robespierre on that subject in the Constituent
Assembly. This cause must find its advocates in every corner where
enlightened politicians and lovers of humanity exist, and it ought above
all to find them in this assembly.

Monarchical governments have trained the human race, and inured it to
the sanguinary arts and refinements of punishment; and it is exactly the
same punishment which has so long shocked the sight and tormented
the patience of the people, that now, in their turn, they practice in
revenge upon their oppressors. But it becomes us to be strictly on our
guard against the abomination and perversity of monarchical examples:
as France has been the first of European nations to abolish royalty, let
her also be the first to abolish the punishment of death, and to find
out a milder and more effectual substitute.

In the particular case now under consideration, I submit the following
propositions: 1st, That the National Convention shall pronounce sentence
of banishment on Louis and his family. 2d, That Louis Capet shall
be detained in prison till the end of the war, and at that epoch the
sentence of banishment to be executed.




XV. SHALL LOUIS XVI. HAVE RESPITE?

SPEECH IN THE CONVENTION, JANUARY 19, 1793.(1)

(Read in French by Deputy Bancal,)

Very sincerely do I regret the Convention's vote of yesterday for death.

Marat [_interrupting_]: I submit that Thomas Paine is incompetent to
vote on this question; being a Quaker his religious principles are
opposed to capital punishment. [_Much confusion, quieted by cries for
"freedom of speech" on which Bancal proceeds with Paine's speech_.]

1 Not included in any previous edition of Paine's "Works."
It is here printed from contemporary French reports,
modified only by Paine's own quotations of a few sentences
in his Memorial to Monroe (xxi.).--_Editor._

I have the advantage of some experience; it is near twenty years that I
have been engaged in the cause of liberty, having contributed something
to it in the revolution of the United States of America, My language has
always been that of liberty _and_ humanity, and I know that nothing
so exalts a nation as the union of these two principles, under all
circumstances. I know that the public mind of France, and particularly
that of Paris, has been heated and irritated by the dangers to which
they have been exposed; but could we carry our thoughts into the future,
when the dangers are ended and the irritations forgotten, what
to-day seems an act of justice may then appear an act of vengeance.
[_Murmurs_.] My anxiety for the cause of France has become for the
moment concern for her honor. If, on my return to America, I should
employ myself on a history of the French Revolution, I had rather record
a thousand errors on the side of mercy, than be obliged to tell one act
of severe justice. I voted against an appeal to the people, because it
appeared to me that the Convention was needlessly wearied on that point;
but I so voted in the hope that this Assembly would pronounce against
death, and for the same punishment that the nation would have voted,
at least in my opinion, that is for reclusion during the war, and
banishment thereafter.(1) That is the punishment most efficacious,
because it includes the whole family at once, and none other can so
operate.



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