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When men depart from an established principle
they are compelled to resort to trick and subterfuge, always shifting
their means to preserve the unity of their objects; and as it rarely
happens that the first expedient makes amends for the prostitution of
principle, they must call in aid a second, of a more flagrant nature,
to supply the deficiency of the former. In this manner legislators go
on accumulating error upon error, and artifice upon artifice, until
the mass becomes so bulky and incongruous, and their embarrassment so
desperate, that they are compelled, as their last expedient, to resort
to the very principle they had violated. The Committee were precisely
in this predicament when they framed this article; and to me, I confess,
their conduct appears specious rather than efficacious.(2)

1 This article eventually stood: "All Frenchmen who shall
have made one or more campaigns for the establishment of the
Republic, are citizens, without condition as to taxes."--
_Editor._

2 The head of the Committee (eleven) was the Abbé Sieves,
whose political treachery was well known to Paine before it
became known to the world by his services to Napoleon in
overthrowing the Republic.--_Editor._

It was not for himself alone, but for his family, that the French
citizen, at the dawn of the revolution, (for then indeed every man
was considered a citizen) marched soldier-like to the frontiers, and
repelled a foreign invasion. He had it not in his contemplation, that he
should enjoy liberty for the residue of his earthly career, and by his
own act preclude his offspring from that inestimable blessing. No! He
wished to leave it as an inheritance to his children, and that they
might hand it down to their latest posterity. If a Frenchman, who united
in his person the character of a Soldier and a Citizen, was now to
return from the army to his peaceful habitation, he must address his
small family in this manner: "Sorry I am, that I cannot leave to you
a small portion of what I have acquired by exposing my person to
the ferocity of our enemies and defeating their machinations. I have
established the republic, and, painful the reflection, all the laurels
which I have won in the field are blasted, and all the privileges to
which my exertions have entitled me extend not beyond the period of
my own existence!" Thus the measure that has been adopted by way of
subterfuge falls short of what the framers of it speculated upon; for
in conciliating the affections of the _Soldier_, they have subjected
the _Father_ to the most pungent sensations, by obliging him to adopt a
generation of Slaves.

Citizens, a great deal has been urged respecting insurrections. I am
confident that no man has a greater abhorrence of them than myself, and
I am sorry that any insinuations should have been thrown out upon me
as a promoter of violence of any kind. The whole tenor of my life and
conversation gives the lie to those calumnies, and proves me to be a
friend to order, truth and justice.

I hope you will attribute this effusion of my sentiments to my anxiety
for the honor and success of the revolution. I have no interest distinct
from that which has a tendency to meliorate the situation of mankind.
The revolution, as far as it respects myself, has been productive of
more loss and persecution than it is possible for me to describe, or for
you to indemnify. But with respect to the subject under consideration, I
could not refrain from declaring my sentiments.

In my opinion, if you subvert the basis of the revolution, if you
dispense with principles, and substitute expedients, you will extinguish
that enthusiasm and energy which have hitherto been the life and soul of
the revolution; and you will substitute in its place nothing but a
cold indifference and self-interest, which will again degenerate into
intrigue, cunning, and effeminacy.

But to discard all considerations of a personal and subordinate nature,
it is essential to the well-being of the republic that the practical or
organic part of the constitution should correspond with its principles;
and as this does not appear to be the case in the plan that has been
presented to you, it is absolutely necessary that it should be submitted
to the revision of a committee, who should be instructed to compare it
with the Declaration of Rights, in order to ascertain the difference
between the two, and to make such alterations as shall render them
perfectly consistent and compatible with each other.




XXVI. THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ENGLISH SYSTEM OF FINANCE.(1)

"On the verge, nay even in the gulph of bankruptcy."

1 This pamphlet, as Paine predicts at its close (no doubt on
good grounds), was translated into all languages of Europe,
and probably hastened the gold suspension of the Bank of
England (1797), which it predicted. The British Government
entrusted its reply to Ralph Broome and George Chalmers, who
wrote pamphlets. There is in the French Archives an order
for 1000 copies, April 27, 1796, nineteen days after Paine's
pamphlet appeared. "Mr. Cobbett has made this little
pamphlet a text-book for most of his elaborate treatises on
our finances.... On the authority of a late Register of Mr.
Cobbett's I learn that the profits arising from the sale of
this pamphlet were devoted [by Paine] to the relief of the
prisoners confined in Newgate for debt."--"Life of Paine,"
by Richard Carlile, 1819.--_Editor._.


Debates in Parliament.

Nothing, they say, is more certain than death, and nothing more
uncertain than the time of dying; yet we can always fix a period beyond
which man cannot live, and within some moment of which he will die. We
are enabled to do this, not by any spirit of prophecy, or foresight into
the event, but by observation of what has happened in all cases of human
or animal existence. If then any other subject, such, for instance, as
a system of finance, exhibits in its progress a series of symptoms
indicating decay, its final dissolution is certain, and the period of it
can be calculated from the symptoms it exhibits.

Those who have hitherto written on the English system of finance, (the
funding system,) have been uniformly impressed with the idea that its
downfall would happen _some time or other_. They took, however, no data
for their opinion, but expressed it predictively,--or merely as opinion,
from a conviction that the perpetual duration of such a system was a
natural impossibility. It is in this manner that Dr. Price has spoken of
it; and Smith, in his Wealth of Nations, has spoken in the same manner;
that is, merely as opinion without data. "The progress," says Smith,
"of the enormous debts, which at present oppress, and will in the long
run _most probably ruin_, all the great nations of Europe [he should
have said _governments_] has been pretty uniform." But this general
manner of speaking, though it might make some impression, carried with
it no conviction.

It is not my intention to predict any thing; but I will show from data
already known, from symptoms and facts which the English funding system
has already exhibited publicly, that it will not continue to the end of
Mr. Pitt's life, supposing him to live the usual age of a man. How much
sooner it may fall, I leave to others to predict.

Let financiers diversify systems of credit as they will, it _is_
nevertheless true, that every system of credit is a system of paper
money. Two experiments have already been had upon paper money; the one
in America, the other in France. In both those cases the whole capital
was emitted, and that whole capital, which in America was called
continental money, and in France assignats, appeared in circulation; the
consequence of which was, that the quantity became so enormous, and so
disproportioned to the quantity of population, and to the quantity' of
objects upon which it could be employed, that the market, if I may so
express it, was glutted with it, and the value of it fell. Between five
and six years determined the fate of those experiments. The same fate
would have happened to gold and silver, could gold and silver have been
issued in the same abundant manner that paper had been, and confined
within the country as paper money always is, by having no circulation
out of it; or, to speak on a larger scale, the same thing would happen
in the world, could the world be glutted with gold and silver, as
America and France have been with paper.

The English system differs from that of America and France in this one
particular, that its capital is kept out of sight; that is, it does
not appear in circulation. Were the whole capital of the national debt,
which at the time I write this is almost one hundred million pounds
sterling, to be emitted in assignats or bills, and that whole quantity
put into circulation, as was done in America and in France, those
English assignats, or bills, would soon sink in value as those of
America and France have done; and that in a greater degree, because
the quantity of them would be more disproportioned to the quantity
of population in England, than was the case in either of the other two
countries. A nominal pound sterling in such bills would not be worth one
penny.

But though the English system, by thus keeping the capital out of sight,
is preserved from hasty destruction, as in the case of America and
France, it nevertheless approaches the same fate, and will arrive at it
with the same certainty, though by a slower progress. The difference
is altogether in the degree of speed by which the two systems approach
their fate, which, to speak in round numbers, is as twenty is to one;
that is, the English system, that of funding the capital instead of
issuing it, contained within itself a capacity of enduring twenty times
longer than the systems adopted by America and France; and at the end of
that time it would arrive at the same common grave, the Potter's Field
of paper money.

The datum, I take for this proportion of twenty to one, is the
difference between a capital and the interest at five per cent.



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