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During that war, bank notes of fifteen pounds and of ten pounds
were coined; and now, since the commencement of the present war, they
are coined as low as five pounds. These five-pound notes will circulate
chiefly among little shop-keepers, butchers, bakers, market-people,
renters of small houses, lodgers, &c. All the high departments of
commerce and the affluent stations of life were already _overstocked_,
as Smith expresses it, with the bank notes. No place remained open
wherein to crowd an additional quantity of bank notes but among the
class of people I have just mentioned, and the means of doing this
could be best effected by coining five-pound notes. This conduct has the
appearance of that of an unprincipled insolvent, who, when on the verge
of bankruptcy to the amount of many thousands, will borrow as low as
five pounds of the servants in his house, and break the next day.

But whatever momentary relief or aid the minister and his bank might
expect from this low contrivance of five-pound notes, it will increase
the inability of the bank to pay the higher notes, and hasten the
destruction of all; for even the small taxes that used to be paid in
money will now be paid in those notes, and the bank will soon find
itself with scarcely any other money than what the hair-powder
guinea-tax brings in.

The bank notes make the most serious part of the business of finance:
what is called the national funded debt is but a trifle when put in
comparison with it; yet the case of the bank notes has never been
touched upon. But it certainly ought to be known upon what authority,
whether that of the minister or of the directors, and upon what
foundation, such immense quantities are issued. I have stated the amount
of them at sixty millions; I have produced data for that estimation; and
besides this, the apparent quantity of them, far beyond that of gold and
silver in the nation, corroborates the statement. But were there but a
third part of sixty millions, the bank cannot pay half a crown in the
pound; for no new supply of money, as before said, can arrive at the
bank, as all the taxes will be paid in paper.

When the funding system began, it was not doubted that the loans that
had been borrowed would be repaid. Government not only propagated that
belief, but it began paying them off. In time this profession came to be
abandoned: and it is not difficult to see that bank notes will march
the same way; for the amount of them is only another debt under another
name; and the probability is that Mr. Pitt will at last propose
funding them. In that case bank notes will not be so valuable as French
assignats. The assignats have a solid property in reserve, in the
national domains; bank notes have none; and, besides this, the English
revenue must then sink down to what the amount of it was before the
funding system began--between three and four millions; one of which
the _arch-treasurer_ would require for himself, and the arch-treasurer
_apparent_ would require three-quarters of a million more to pay his
debts. "_In France_," says Sterne, "_they order these things better_."

I have now exposed the English system of finance to the eyes of all
nations; for this work will be published in all languages. In doing
this, I have done an act of justice to those numerous citizens of
neutral nations who have been imposed upon by that fraudulent system,
and who have property at stake upon the event.

As an individual citizen of America, and as far as an individual can
go, I have revenged (if I may use the expression without any immoral
meaning) the piratical depredations committed on the American commerce
by the English government. I have retaliated for France on the subject
of finance: and I conclude with retorting on Mr. Pitt the expression he
used against France, and say, that the English system of finance "is on
the verge, nay even in the

GULPH OF BANKRUPTCY."

Thomas Paine.

PARIS, 19th Germinal. 4th year of the Republic, April 8, 1796.




XXVII. FORGETFULNESS.(1)

1 This undated composition, of much biographical interest,
was shown by Paine to Henry Redhead Yorke, who visited him
in Paris (1802), and was allowed to copy the only portions
now preserved. In the last of Yorke's Letters from France
(Lond., 1814), thirty-three pages are given to Paine. Under
the name "Little Corner of the World," Lady Smyth wrote
cheering letters to Paine in his prison, and he replied to
his then unknown correspondent under the name of "The Castle
in die Air." After his release he discovered in his
correspondent a lady who had appealed to him for assistance,
no doubt for her husband. With Sir Robert (an English banker
in Paris) and Lady Smyth, Paine formed a fast friendship
which continued through life. Sir Robert was born in 1744,
and married (1776) a Miss Blake of Hanover Square, London.
He died in 1802 of illness brought on by his imprisonment
under Napoleon. Several of Paine's poems were addressed to
Lady Smyth.--_Editor._


FROM "THE CASTLE IN THE AIR," TO THE "LITTLE CORNER OF THE WORLD."

Memory, like a beauty that is always present to hear her-self
flattered, is flattered by every one. But the absent and silent goddess,
Forgetfulness, has no votaries, and is never thought of: yet we owe her
much. She is the goddess of ease, though not of pleasure.

When the mind is like a room hung with black, and every corner of it
crowded with the most horrid images imagination can create, this kind
speechless goddess of a maid, Forgetfulness, is following us night
and day with her opium wand, and gently touching first one, and then
another, benumbs them into rest, and at last glides them away with the
silence of a departing shadow. It is thus the tortured mind is restored
to the calm condition of ease, and fitted for happiness.

How dismal must the picture of life appear to the mind in that dreadful
moment when it resolves on darkness, and to die! One can scarcely
believe such a choice was possible. Yet how many of the young and
beautiful, timid in every thing else, and formed for delight, have shut
their eyes upon the world, and made the waters their sepulchral bed! Ah,
would they in that crisis, when life and death are before them, and
each within their reach, would they but think, or try to think, that
Forgetfulness will come to their relief, and lull them into ease, they
could stay their hand, and lay hold of life. But there is a necromancy
in wretchedness that entombs the mind, and increases the misery, by
shutting out every ray of light and hope. It makes the wretched
falsely believe they will be wretched ever. It is the most fatal of all
dangerous delusions; and it is only when this necromantic night-mare of
the mind begins to vanish, by being resisted, that it is discovered to
be but a tyrannic spectre. All grief, like all things else, will yield
to the obliterating power of time. While despair is preying on the mind,
time and its effects are preying on despair; and certain it is, the
dismal vision will fade away, and Forgetfulness, with her sister Ease,
will change the scene. Then let not the wretched be rash, but wait,
painful as the struggle may be, the arrival of Forgetfulness; for it
will certainly arrive.

I have twice been present at the scene of attempted suicide. The one
a love-distracted girl in England, the other of a patriotic friend in
France; and as the circumstances of each are strongly pictured in my
memory, I will relate them to you. They will in some measure corroborate
what I have said of Forgetfulness.

About the year 1766, I was in Lincolnshire, in England, and on a visit
at the house of a widow lady, Mrs. E____, at a small village in the fens
of that county. It was in summer; and one evening after supper, Mrs.
E____ and myself went to take a turn in the garden. It was about eleven
o'clock, and to avoid the night air of the fens, we were walking in a
bower, shaded over with hazel bushes. On a sudden, she screamed out,
and cried "Lord, look, look!" I cast my eyes through the openings of the
hazel bushes in the direction she was looking, and saw a white shapeless
figure, without head or arms, moving along one of the walks at some
distance from us. I quitted Mrs. E______, and went after it. When I got
into the walk where the figure was, and was following it, it took up
another walk. There was a holly bush in the corner of the two walks,
which, it being night, I did not observe; and as I continued to step
forward, the holly bush came in a straight line between me and the
figure, and I lost sight of it; and as I passed along one walk, and the
figure the other, the holly bush still continued to intercept the view,
so as to give the appearance that the figure had vanished. When I came
to the corner of the two walks, I caught sight of it again, and coming
up with it, I reached out my hand to touch it; and in the act of doing
this, the idea struck me, will my hand pass through the air, or shall I
feel any thing? Less than a moment would decide this, and my hand rested
on the shoulder of a human figure. I spoke, but do not recollect what I
said. It answered in a low voice, "Pray let me alone." I then knew who
it was. It was a young lady who was on a visit to Mrs. E------, and who,
when we sat down to supper, said she found herself extremely ill, and
would go to bed. I called to Mrs. E------, who came, and I said to her,
"It is Miss N------." Mrs. E------ said, "My God, I hope you are not
going to do yourself any hurt;" for Mrs. E------ suspected something.
She replied with pathetic melancholy, "Life has not one pleasure for
me." We got her into the house, and Mrs. E------ took her to sleep with
her.

The case was, the man to whom she expected to be married had forsaken
her, and when she heard he was to be married to another the shock
appeared to her to be too great to be borne. She had retired, as I have
said, to her room, and when she supposed all the family were gone to
bed, (which would have been the case if Mrs. E------ and I had not
walked into the garden,) she undressed herself, and tied her apron over
her head; which, descending below her waist, gave her the shapeless
figure I have spoken of.



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