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I answer, seek it
not in reason, for the mind is at war with reason, and to reason against
feelings is as vain as to reason against fire: it serves only to torture
the torture, by adding reproach to horror. All reasoning with ourselves
in such cases acts upon us like the reason of another person, which,
however kindly done, serves but to insult the misery we suffer. If
reason could remove the pain, reason would have prevented it. If she
could not do the one, how is she to perform the other? In all such cases
we must look upon Reason as dispossessed of her empire, by a revolt
of the mind. She retires herself to a distance to weep, and the ebony
sceptre of Despair rules alone. All that Reason can do is to suggest,
to hint a thought, to signify a wish, to cast now and then a kind
of bewailing look, to hold up, when she can catch the eye, the
miniature-shaded portrait of Hope; and though dethroned, and can dictate
no more, to wait upon us in the humble station of a handmaid.




XXVIII. AGRARIAN JUSTICE.

Editor's introduction:

This pamphlet appeared first in Paris, 1797, with the title: "Thomas
Payne à La Législature et au Directoire. Ou la Justice Agraire opposée à
la Loi Agraire, et aux privilèges agraires. Prix 15 sols. À Paris, chez
la citoyenne Ragouleau, près le Théâtre de la République, No. 229. Et
chez les Marchands de Nouveautés." A prefatory note says (translated):
"The sudden departure of Thomas Paine has pre-vented his supervising the
translation of this work, to which he attached great value. He entrusted
it to a friend. It is for the reader to decide whether the scheme here
set forth is worthy of the publicity given it." (Paine had gone to Havre
early in May with the Monroes, intending to accompany them to America,
but, rightly suspecting plans for his capture by an English cruiser,
returned to Paris.) In the same year the pamphlet was printed in
English, by W. Adlard in Paris, and in London for "T. Williams, No.
8 Little Turnstile, Holborn." Paine's preface to the London edition
contained some sentences which the publishers, as will be seen,
suppressed under asterisks, and two sentences were omitted from the
pamphlet which I have supplied from the French. The English title adds a
brief resume of Paine's scheme to the caption--"Agrarian Justice opposed
to Agrarian Law, and to Agrarian Monopoly." The work was written in the
winter of 1795-6, when Paine was still an invalid in Monroe's house,
though not published until 1797.

The prefatory Letter to the Legislature and the Directory, now for the
first time printed in English, is of much historical interest, and shows
the title of the pamphlet related to the rise of Socialism in France.
The leader of that move-ment, François Noel Babeuf, a frantic and
pathetic figure of the time, had just been executed. He had named
himself "Gracchus," and called his journal "Tribune du Peuple," in
homage to the Roman Tribune, Caius Gracchus, the original socialist and
agrarian, whose fate (suicide of himself and his servant) Babeuf and his
disciple Darthé invoked in prison, whence they were carried bleeding to
the guillotine. This, however, was on account of the conspiracy they had
formed, with the remains of the Robespierrian party and some disguised
royalists, to overthrow the government. The socialistic propaganda of
Babeuf, however, prevailed over all other elements of the conspiracy:
the reactionary features of the Constitution, especially the property
qualification of suffrage of whose effects Paine had warned the
Convention in the speech printed in this volume, (chapter xxv.) and the
poverty which survived a revolution that promised its abolition, had
excited wide discontent. The "Babouvists" numbered as many as 17,000 in
Paris. Babeuf and Lepelletier were appointed by the secret council of
this fraternity (which took the name of "Equals") a "Directory of Public
Safety." May 11, 1796, was fixed for seizing on the government, and
Babeuf had prepared his Proclamation of the socialistic millennium. But
the plot was discovered, May 10th, the leaders arrested, and, after
a year's delay, two of them executed,--the best-hearted men in the
movement, Babeuf and Darthé. Paine too had been moved by the cry for
"Bread, and the Constitution of '93 "; and it is a notable coincidence
that in that winter of 1795-6, while the socialists were secretly
plotting to seize the kingdom of heaven by violence, Paine was devising
his plan of relief by taxing inheritances of land, anticipating by a
hundred years the English budget of Sir William Harcourt. Babeuf having
failed in his socialist, and Pichegru in his royalist, plot, their blows
were yet fatal: there still remained in the hearts of millions a Babeuf
or a Pichegru awaiting the chieftain strong enough to combine them,
as Napoleon presently did, making all the nation "Égaux" as parts of a
mighty military engine, and satisfying the royalist triflers with the
pomp and glory of war.



AUTHOR'S INSCRIPTION.

To the Legislature and the Executive Directory of the French Republic.

The plan contained in this work is not adapted for any particular
country alone: the principle on which it is based is general. But as the
rights of man are a new study in this world, and one needing protection
from priestly imposture, and the insolence of oppressions too long
established, I have thought it right to place this little work under
your safeguard. When we reflect on the long and dense night in which
France and all Europe have remained plunged by their governments and
their priests, we must feel less surprise than grief at the bewilderment
caused by the first burst of light that dispels the darkness. The eye
accustomed to darkness can hardly bear at first the broad daylight. It
is by usage the eye learns to see, and it is the same in passing from
any situation to its opposite.

As we have not at one instant renounced all our errors, we cannot at one
stroke acquire knowledge of all our rights. France has had the honour of
adding to the word _Liberty_ that of _Equality_; and this word signifies
essentially a principal that admits of no gradation in the things to
which it applies. But equality is often misunderstood, often misapplied,
and often violated.

_Liberty_ and _Property_ are words expressing all those of our
possessions which are not of an intellectual nature. There are two kinds
of property. Firstly, natural property, or that which comes to us from
the Creator of the universe,--such as the earth, air, water. Secondly,
artificial or acquired property,--the invention of men. In the latter
equality is impossible; for to distribute it equally it would be
necessary that all should have contributed in the same proportion, which
can never be the case; and this being the case, every individual would
hold on to his own property, as his right share. Equality of natural
property is the subject of this little essay. Every individual in
the world is born therein with legitimate claims on a certain kind of
property, or its equivalent.

The right of voting for persons charged with the execution of the laws
that govern society is inherent in the word Liberty, and constitutes
the equality of personal rights. But even if that right (of voting) were
inherent in property, which I deny, the right of suffrage would still
belong to all equally, because, as I have said, all individuals have
legitimate birthrights in a certain species of property.

I have always considered the present Constitution of the French Republic
the _best organized system_ the human mind has yet produced. But I hope
my former colleagues will not be offended if I warn them of an error
which has slipped into its principle. Equality of the right of suffrage
is not maintained. This right is in it connected with a condition on
which it ought not to depend; that is, with a proportion of a certain
tax called "direct." The dignity of suffrage is thus lowered; and, in
placing it in the scale with an inferior thing, the enthusiasm that
right is capable of inspiring is diminished. It is impossible to find
any equivalent counterpoise for the right of suffrage, because it is
alone worthy to be its own basis, and cannot thrive as a graft, or an
appendage.

Since the Constitution was established we have seen two conspiracies
stranded,--that of Babeuf, and that of some obscure personages who
decorate themselves with the despicable name of "royalists." The defect
in principle of the Constitution was the origin of Babeuf's conspiracy.
He availed himself of the resentment caused by this flaw, and instead
of seeking a remedy by legitimate and constitutional means, or proposing
some measure useful to society, the conspirators did their best to renew
disorder and confusion, and constituted themselves personally into a
Directory, which is formally destructive of election and representation.
They were, in fine, extravagant enough to suppose that society, occupied
with its domestic affairs, would blindly yield to them a directorship
usurped by violence.

The conspiracy of Babeuf was followed in a few months by that of the
royalists, who foolishly flattered themselves with the notion of
doing great things by feeble or foul means. They counted on all the
discontented, from whatever cause, and tried to rouse, in their turn,
the class of people who had been following the others. But these new
chiefs acted as if they thought society had nothing more at heart
than to maintain courtiers, pensioners, and all their train, under the
contemptible title of royalty. My little essay will disabuse them, by
showing that society is aiming at a very different end,--maintaining
itself.

We all know or should know, that the time during which a revolution is
proceeding is not the time when its resulting advantages can be
enjoyed. But had Babeuf and his accomplices taken into consideration the
condition of France under this constitution, and compared it with what
it was under the tragical revolutionary government, and during the
execrable reign of Terror, the rapidity of the alteration must have
appeared to them very striking and astonishing.



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