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I know these people better than
you do.

You desire me to believe that "you are placed here on a difficult
Theatre with many important objects to attend to, and with but few to
consult with, and that it becomes you in pursuit of these to regulate
your conduct with respect to each, as to manner and time, as will in
your judgment be best calculated to accomplish the whole." As I know
not what these objects are I can say nothing to that point. But I have
always been taught to believe that the liberty of a Citizen was the
first object of all free Governments, and that it ought not to give
preference to, or be blended with, any other. It is that public object
that all the world can see, and which obtains an influence upon public
opinion more than any other. This is not the case with the objects you
allude to. But be those objects what they may, can you suppose you will
accomplish them the easier by holding me in the back-ground, or making
me only an accident in the negotiation? Those with whom you confer will
conclude from thence that you do not feel yourself very strong upon
those points, and that you politically keep me out of sight in the
meantime to make your approach the easier.

There is one part in your letter that is equally as proper should be
communicated to the Committee as to me, and which I conceive you are
under some diplomatic obligation to do. It is that part which you
conclude by saying that "_to the welfare of Thomas Paine the Americans
are not and cannot be indifferent_." As it is impossible the Americans
can preserve their esteem for me and for my oppressors at the same
time, the injustice to me strikes at the popular part of the Treaty of
Alliance. If it be the wish of the Committee to reduce the treaty to a
mere skeleton of Government forms, they are taking the right method to
do it, and it is not improbable they will blame you afterwards for not
in-forming them upon the subject. The disposition to retort has been so
notorious here, that you ought to be guarded against it at all points.

You say in your letter that you doubt whether the gentleman who informed
me of the language held by some Americans respecting my citizenship of
America conveyed even his own ideas clearly upon the subject.(1) I know
not how this may be, but I believe he told me the truth. I received a
letter a few days ago from a friend and former comrade of mine in which
he tells me, that all the Americans he converses with, say, that
I should have been in liberty long ago if the Minister could have
reclaimed me as an American citizen. When I compare this with the
counter-declarations in your letter I can explain the case no otherwise
than I have already done, that it is an apology to get rid of the shame
and dishonour they feel at the imprisonment of an American citizen,
and because they are not willing it should be supposed there is want
of influence in the American Embassy. But they ought to see that this
language is injurious to me.

On the 2d of this month Vendemaire I received a line from Mr. Beresford
in which he tells me I shall be in liberty in two or three days, and
that he has this from good authority. On the 12th I received a note from
Mr. Labonadaire, written at the Bureau of the Concierge, in which he
tells me of the interest you take in procuring my liberation, and that
after the steps that had been already taken that I ought to write to the
Convention to demand my liberty _purely and simply_ as a citizen of the
United States of America. He advised me to send the letter to him, and
he would translate it. I sent the letter inclosing at the same time
a letter to you. I have heard nothing since of the letter to the
Convention. On the 17th I received a letter from my former comrade
Vanhuele, in which he says "I am just come from Mr. Russell who had
yesterday a conversation with your Minister and your liberation is
certain--you will be in liberty to-morrow." Vanhuele also adds, "I find
the advice of Mr. Labonadaire good, for tho' you have some enemies in
the Convention, the strongest and best part are in your favour." But
the case is, and I felt it whilst I was writing the letter to the
Convention, that there is an awkwardness in my appearing, you being
present; for every foreigner should apply thro' his Minister, or rather
his Minister for him.

1 The letter of Peter Whiteside, quoted at the beginning of
the Memorial. See introduction to the Memorial. It would
seem from this whole letter that it was not known by
Americans in Paris that Monroe had been kept ont of his
office by Morris for nearly a month after his arrival in
Paris.--_Editor._

When I thus see day after day and month after month, and promise after
promise, pass away without effect, what can I conclude but that either
the Committees are secretly determined not to let me go, or that the
measures you take are not pursued with the vigor necessary to give them
effect; or that the American National character is without sufficient
importance in the French Republic? The latter will be gratifying to
the English Government. In short, Sir, the case is now arrived to that
crisis, that for the sake of your own reputation as a Minister you ought
to require a positive answer from the Committee. As to myself, it is
more agreeable to me now to contemplate an honourable destruction, and
to perish in the act of protesting against the injustice I suffer,
and to caution the people of America against confiding too much in the
Treaty of Alliance, violated as it has been in every principle, and in
my imprisonment though an American Citizen, than remain in the wretched
condition I am. I am no longer of any use to the world or to myself.

There was a time when I beheld the Revolution of the 10th. Thermidor
[the fall of Robespierre] with enthusiasm. It was the first news
my comrade Vanhuele communicated to me during my illness, and it
contributed to my recovery. But there is still something rotten at the
Center, and the Enemies that I have, though perhaps not numerous, are
more active than my friends. If I form a wrong opinion of men or things
it is to you I must look to set me right. You are in possession of the
secret. I know nothing of it. But that I may be guarded against as many
wants as possible I shall set about writing a memorial to Congress,
another to the State of Pennsylvania, and an address to the people of
America; but it will be difficult for me to finish these until I know
from yourself what applications you have made for my liberation, and
what answers you have received.

Ah, Sir, you would have gotten a load of trouble and difficulties off
your hands that I fear will multiply every day, had you made it a point
to procure my liberty when you first arrived, and not left me floating
on the promises of men whom you did not know. You were then a new
character. You had come in consequence of their own request that Morris
should be recalled; and had you then, before you opened any subject
of negociation that might arise into controversy, demanded my liberty
either as a Civility or as a Right I see not how they could have refused
it.

I have already said that after all the promises that have been made I
am still in prison. I am in the dark upon all the matters that relate
to myself. I know not if it be to the Convention, to the Committee of
Public Safety, of General Surety, or to the deputies who come
sometimes to the Luxembourg to examine and put persons in liberty, that
applications have been made for my liberation. But be it to whom it
may, my earnest and pressing request to you as Minister is that you
will bring this matter to a conclusion by reclaiming me as an American
citizen imprisoned in France under the plea of being a foreigner born in
England; that I may know the result, and how to prepare the Memorials
I have mentioned, should there be occasion for them. The right of
determining who are American citizens can belong only to America. The
Convention have declared I am not a French Citizen because she has
declared me to be a foreigner, and have by that declaration cancelled
and annulled the vote of the former assembly that conferred the Title
of Citizen upon Citizens or subjects of other Countries. I should not be
honest to you nor to myself were I not to express myself as I have done
in this letter, and I confide and request you will accept it in that
sense and in no other.

I am, with great respect, your suffering fellow-citizen,

Thomas Paine.

P. S.--If my imprisonment is to continue, and I indulge very little hope
to the contrary, I shall be under the absolute necessity of applying
to you for a supply of several articles. Every person here have their
families or friends upon the spot who make provision for them. This is
not the case with me; I have no person I can apply to but the American
Minister, and I can have no doubt that if events should prevent
my repaying the expence Congress or the State of Pennsylvania will
discharge it for me.

To day is 22 Vendemaire Monday October 13, but you will not receive this
letter till the 14th. I will send the bearer to you again on the 15th,
Wednesday, and I will be obliged to you to send me for the present,
three or four candles, a little sugar of any kind, and some soap for
shaving; and I should be glad at the same time to receive a line from
you and a memorandum of the articles. Were I in your place I would order
a Hogshead of Sugar, some boxes of Candles and Soap from America, for
they will become still more scarce. Perhaps the best method for you
to procure them at present is by applying to the American Consuls at
Bordeaux and Havre, and have them up by the diligence.



3. [Undated.]

Dear Sir: As I have not yet received any answer to my last, I have
amused myself with writing you the inclosed memoranda. Though
you recommend patience to me I cannot but feel very pointedly the
uncomfortableness of my situation, and among other reflections that
occur to me I cannot think that America receives any credit from the
long imprisonment that I suffer. It has the appearance of neglecting
her citizens and her friends and of encouraging the insults of foreign
nations upon them, and upon her commerce.



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