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You will easily suppose
that if the information I received had been exact, my situation was
without hope. I had in that case neither section, department nor
Country, to reclaim me; but that is not all, I felt a poignancy of
grief, in having the least reason to suppose that America had so soon
forgotten me who had never forgotten her.

Mr. Labonadaire, in a note of yesterday, directed me to write to the
Convention. As I suppose this measure has been taken in concert with
you, I have requested him to shew you the letter, of which he will make
a translation to accompany the original.

(I cannot see what motive can induce them to keep me in prison. It
will gratify the English Government and afflict the friends I have in
America. The supporters of the system of Terror might apprehend that if
I was in liberty and in America I should publish the history of their
crimes, but the present persons who have overset that immoral System
ought to have no such apprehension. On the contrary, they ought to
consider me as one of themselves, at least as one of their friends. Had
I been an insignificant character I had not been in arrestation. It was
the literary and philosophical reputation I had gained, in the world,
that made them my Enemies; and I am the victim of the principles, and
if I may be permitted to say it, of the talents, that procured me the
esteem of America. My character is the _secret_ of my arrestation.)

1 Printed in the letter to Washington, chap. XXII. The delay
of sixteen days in Monroe's letter was probably due to the
manouvres of Paine's enemies on the Committee of Public
Safety. He was released only after their removal from the
Committee, and the departure of Gouverneur Morris.--
_Editor._,

If the letter I have written be not covered by other authority than my
own it will have no effect, for they already know all that I can say. On
what ground do they pretend to deprive America of the service of any
of her citizens without assigning a cause, or only the flimsy one of
my being born in England? Gates, were he here, might be arrested on the
same pretence, and he and Burgoyne be confounded together.

It is difficult for me to give an opinion, but among other things
that occur to me, I think that if you were to say that, as it will be
necessary to you to inform the Government of America of my situation,
you require an explanation with the Committee upon that subject; that
you are induced to make this proposal not only out of esteem for the
character of the person who is the personal object of it, but because
you know that his arrestation will distress the Americans, and the more
so as it will appear to them to be contrary to their ideas of civil and
national justice, it might perhaps have some effect. If the Committee
[of Public Safety] will do nothing, it will be necessary to bring this
matter openly before the Convention, for I do most sincerely assure you,
from the observations that I hear, and I suppose the same are made in
other places, that the character of America lies under some reproach.
All the world knows that I have served her, and they see that I am still
in prison; and you know that when people can form a conclusion upon a
simple fact, they trouble not themselves about reasons. I had rather
that America cleared herself of all suspicion of ingratitude, though I
were to be the victim.

You advise me to have patience, but I am fully persuaded that the longer
I continue in prison the more difficult will be my liberation. There
are two reasons for this: the one is that the present Committee, by
continuing so long my imprisonment, will naturally suppose that my mind
will be soured against them, as it was against those who put me in, and
they will continue my imprisonment from the same apprehensions as the
former Committee did; the other reason is, that it is now about two
months since your arrival, and I am still in prison. They will explain
this into an indifference upon my fate that will encourage them to
continue my imprisonment. When I hear some people say that it is the
Government of America that now keeps me in prison by not reclaiming me,
and then pour forth a volley of execrations against her, I know not
how to answer them otherwise than by a direct denial which they do not
appear to believe. You will easily conclude that whatever relates to
imprisonments and liberations makes a topic of prison conversation;
and as I am now the oldest inhabitant within these walls, except two
or three, I am often the subject of their remarks, because from the
continuance of my imprisonment they auger ill to themselves. You see I
write you every thing that occurs to me, and I conclude with thanking
you again for your very friendly and affectionate letter, and am with
great respect,

Your's affectionately,

Thomas Paine.

(To day is the anniversary of the action at German Town. [October 4,
1777.] Your letter has enabled me to contradict the observations before
mentioned.)



2. Oct 13, 1794 Dear Sir: On the 28th of this Month (October) I shall
have suffered ten months imprisonment, to the dishonour of America as
well as of myself, and I speak to you very honestly when I say that my
patience is exhausted. It is only my actual liberation that can make me
believe it. Had any person told me that I should remain in prison two
months after the arrival of a new Minister, I should have supposed that
he meant to affront me as an American. By the friendship and sympathy
you express in your letter you seem to consider my imprisonment as
having connection only with myself, but I am certain that the inferences
that follow from it have relation also to the National character of
America, I already feel this in myself, for I no longer speak with pride
of being a citizen of that country. Is it possible Sir that I should,
when I am suffering unjust imprisonment under the very eye of her new
Minister?

While there was no Minister here (for I consider Morris as none) nobody
wondered at my imprisonment, but now everybody wonders. The continuance
of it under a change of diplomatic circumstances, subjects me to the
suspicion of having merited it, and also to the suspicion of having
forfeited my reputation with America; and it subjects her at the same
time to the suspicion of ingratitude, or to the reproach of wanting
national or diplomatic importance. The language that some Americans
have held of my not being considered as an American citizen, tho'
contradicted by yourself, proceeds, I believe, from no other motive,
than the shame and dishonour they feel at the imprisonment of a
fellow-citizen, and they adopt this apology, at my expence, to get rid
of that disgrace. Is it not enough that I suffer imprisonment, but my
mind also must be wounded and tortured with subjects of this kind? Did I
reason from personal considerations only, independent of principles and
the pride of having practiced those principles honourably, I should be
tempted to curse the day I knew America. By contributing to her liberty
I have lost my own, and yet her Government beholds my situation in
silence. Wonder not, Sir, at the ideas I express or the language in
which I express them. If I have a heart to feel for others I can feel
also for myself, and if I have anxiety for my own honour, I have it also
for a country whose suffering infancy I endeavoured to nourish and
to which I have been enthusiastically attached. As to patience I have
practiced it long--as long as it was honorable to do so, and when it
goes beyond that point it becomes meanness.

I am inclined to believe that you have attended to my imprisonment
more as a friend than as a Minister. As a friend I thank you for your
affectionate attachment. As a Minister you have to look beyond me to the
honour and reputation of your Government; and your Countrymen, who have
accustomed themselves to consider any subject in one line of thinking
only, more especially if it makes a strong [impression] upon them, as
I believe my situation has made upon you, do not immediately see the
matters that have relation to it in another line; and it is to bring
these two into one point that I offer you these observations. A citizen
and his country, in a case like mine, are so closely connected that the
case of one is the case of both.

When you first arrived the path you had to pursue with respect to my
liberation was simple. I was imprisoned as a foreigner; you knew that
foreigner to be a citizen of America, and you knew also his character,
and as such you should immediately have reclaimed him. You could lose
nothing by taking strong ground, but you might lose much by taking an
inferior one; but instead of this, which I conceive would have been the
right line of acting, you left me in their hands on the loose intimation
that my liberation would take place without your direct interference,
and you strongly recommended it to me to wait the issue. This is more
than seven weeks ago and I am still in prison. I suspect these people
are trifling with you, and if they once believe they can do that, you
will not easily get any business done except what they wish to have
done.

When I take a review of my whole situation--my circumstances ruined,
my health half destroyed, my person imprisoned, and the prospect of
imprisonment still staring me in the face, can you wonder at the
agony of my feelings? You lie down in safety and rise to plenty; it
is otherwise with me; I am deprived of more than half the common
necessaries of life; I have not a candle to burn and cannot get one.
Fuel can be procured only in small quantities and that with great
difficulty and very dear, and to add to the rest, I am fallen into a
relapse and am again on the sick list. Did you feel the whole force of
what I suffer, and the disgrace put upon America by this injustice done
to one of her best and most affectionate citizens, you would not, either
as a friend or Minister, rest a day till you had procured my liberation.
It is the work of two or three hours when you set heartily about
it, that is, when you demand me as an American citizen, or propose a
conference with the Committee upon that subject; or you may make it the
work of a twelve-month and not succeed.



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