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The older they are, the
less correspondence can they have with the present state of things.
Time, and change of circumstances and opinions, have the same
progressive effect in rendering modes of Government obsolete as they
have upon customs and manners.--Agriculture, commerce, manufactures, and
the tranquil arts, by which the prosperity of Nations is best promoted,
require a different system of Government, and a different species of
knowledge to direct its operations, than what might have been required
in the former condition of the world.

As it is not difficult to perceive, from the enlightened state of
mankind, that hereditary Governments are verging to their decline,
and that Revolutions on the broad basis of national sovereignty and
Government by representation, are making their way in Europe, it
would be an act of wisdom to anticipate their approach, and produce
Revolutions by reason and accommodation, rather than commit them to the
issue of convulsions.

From what we now see, nothing of reform in the political world ought to
be held improbable. It is an age of Revolutions, in which everything
may be looked for. The intrigue of Courts, by which the system of war
is kept up, may provoke a confederation of Nations to abolish it: and
an European Congress to patronise the progress of free Government, and
promote the civilisation of Nations with each other, is an event nearer
in probability, than once were the revolutions and alliance of France
and America.

END OF PART I.




RIGHTS OF MAN. PART SECOND, COMBINING PRINCIPLE AND PRACTICE.

By Thomas Paine.




FRENCH TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.

(1792)

THE work of which we offer a translation to the public has created the
greatest sensation in England. Paine, that man of freedom, who seems
born to preach "Common Sense" to the whole world with the same success
as in America, explains in it to the people of England the theory of the
practice of the Rights of Man.

Owing to the prejudices that still govern that nation, the author has
been obliged to condescend to answer Mr. Burke. He has done so more
especially in an extended preface which is nothing but a piece of
very tedious controversy, in which he shows himself very sensitive to
criticisms that do not really affect him. To translate it seemed an
insult to the free French people, and similar reasons have led the
editors to suppress also a dedicatory epistle addressed by Paine to
Lafayette.

The French can no longer endure dedicatory epistles. A man should write
privately to those he esteems: when he publishes a book his thoughts
should be offered to the public alone. Paine, that uncorrupted friend
of freedom, believed too in the sincerity of Lafayette. So easy is it
to deceive men of single-minded purpose! Bred at a distance from courts,
that austere American does not seem any more on his guard against the
artful ways and speech of courtiers than some Frenchmen who resemble
him.


TO

M. DE LA FAYETTE

After an acquaintance of nearly fifteen years in difficult situations
in America, and various consultations in Europe, I feel a pleasure in
presenting to you this small treatise, in gratitude for your services
to my beloved America, and as a testimony of my esteem for the virtues,
public and private, which I know you to possess.

The only point upon which I could ever discover that we differed was not
as to principles of government, but as to time. For my own part I think
it equally as injurious to good principles to permit them to linger,
as to push them on too fast. That which you suppose accomplishable in
fourteen or fifteen years, I may believe practicable in a much shorter
period. Mankind, as it appears to me, are always ripe enough to
understand their true interest, provided it be presented clearly to
their understanding, and that in a manner not to create suspicion by
anything like self-design, nor offend by assuming too much. Where we
would wish to reform we must not reproach.

When the American revolution was established I felt a disposition to
sit serenely down and enjoy the calm. It did not appear to me that any
object could afterwards arise great enough to make me quit tranquility
and feel as I had felt before. But when principle, and not place, is the
energetic cause of action, a man, I find, is everywhere the same.

I am now once more in the public world; and as I have not a right to
contemplate on so many years of remaining life as you have, I have
resolved to labour as fast as I can; and as I am anxious for your aid
and your company, I wish you to hasten your principles and overtake me.

If you make a campaign the ensuing spring, which it is most probable
there will be no occasion for, I will come and join you. Should the
campaign commence, I hope it will terminate in the extinction of German
despotism, and in establishing the freedom of all Germany. When France
shall be surrounded with revolutions she will be in peace and safety,
and her taxes, as well as those of Germany, will consequently become
less.

Your sincere,

Affectionate Friend,

Thomas Paine

London, Feb. 9, 1792




PREFACE

When I began the chapter entitled the "Conclusion" in the former part
of the RIGHTS OF MAN, published last year, it was my intention to have
extended it to a greater length; but in casting the whole matter in my
mind, which I wish to add, I found that it must either make the work too
bulky, or contract my plan too much. I therefore brought it to a close
as soon as the subject would admit, and reserved what I had further to
say to another opportunity.

Several other reasons contributed to produce this determination.
I wished to know the manner in which a work, written in a style of
thinking and expression different to what had been customary in England,
would be received before I proceeded farther. A great field was opening
to the view of mankind by means of the French Revolution. Mr. Burke's
outrageous opposition thereto brought the controversy into England. He
attacked principles which he knew (from information) I would contest
with him, because they are principles I believe to be good, and which I
have contributed to establish, and conceive myself bound to defend. Had
he not urged the controversy, I had most probably been a silent man.

Another reason for deferring the remainder of the work was, that Mr.
Burke promised in his first publication to renew the subject at another
opportunity, and to make a comparison of what he called the English and
French Constitutions. I therefore held myself in reserve for him. He has
published two works since, without doing this: which he certainly would
not have omitted, had the comparison been in his favour.

In his last work, his "Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs," he has
quoted about ten pages from the RIGHTS OF MAN, and having given himself
the trouble of doing this, says he "shall not attempt in the smallest
degree to refute them," meaning the principles therein contained. I am
enough acquainted with Mr. Burke to know that he would if he could. But
instead of contesting them, he immediately after consoles himself with
saying that "he has done his part."--He has not done his part. He has
not performed his promise of a comparison of constitutions. He started
the controversy, he gave the challenge, and has fled from it; and he is
now a case in point with his own opinion that "the age of chivalry is
gone!"

The title, as well as the substance of his last work, his "Appeal," is
his condemnation. Principles must stand on their own merits, and if they
are good they certainly will. To put them under the shelter of other
men's authority, as Mr. Burke has done, serves to bring them into
suspicion. Mr. Burke is not very fond of dividing his honours, but in
this case he is artfully dividing the disgrace.

But who are those to whom Mr. Burke has made his appeal? A set of
childish thinkers, and half-way politicians born in the last century,
men who went no farther with any principle than as it suited their
purposes as a party; the nation was always left out of the question; and
this has been the character of every party from that day to this.
The nation sees nothing of such works, or such politics, worthy its
attention. A little matter will move a party, but it must be something
great that moves a nation.

Though I see nothing in Mr. Burke's "Appeal" worth taking much notice
of, there is, however, one expression upon which I shall offer a few
remarks. After quoting largely from the RIGHTS OF MAN, and declining to
contest the principles contained in that work, he says: "This will most
probably be done (if such writings shall be thought to deserve any other
refutation than that of criminal justice) by others, who may think with
Mr. Burke and with the same zeal."

In the first place, it has not yet been done by anybody. Not less, I
believe, than eight or ten pamphlets intended as answers to the former
part of the RIGHTS OF MAN have been published by different persons, and
not one of them to my knowledge, has extended to a second edition, nor
are even the titles of them so much as generally remembered. As I am
averse to unnecessary multiplying publications, I have answered none of
them. And as I believe that a man may write himself out of reputation
when nobody else can do it, I am careful to avoid that rock.

But as I would decline unnecessary publications on the one hand, so
would I avoid everything that might appear like sullen pride on the
other. If Mr. Burke, or any person on his side the question, will
produce an answer to the RIGHTS OF MAN that shall extend to a half, or
even to a fourth part of the number of copies to which the Rights Of Man
extended, I will reply to his work. But until this be done, I shall so
far take the sense of the public for my guide (and the world knows I am
not a flatterer) that what they do not think worth while to read, is not
worth mine to answer. I suppose the number of copies to which the
first part of the RIGHTS OF MAN extended, taking England, Scotland, and
Ireland, is not less than between forty and fifty thousand.

I now come to remark on the remaining part of the quotation I have made
from Mr.



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