Sivut kuvina

About the time of his arrival at Paris the national convention began to divide itself into factions; the king's friends had been completely subdued by the suppression of the Feuillans, the affair of the 10th of August, and the massacre of the 2nd and 3rd of September; while the jacobins who had been hitherto considered as the patriotic party, became in their turns divided into different cabals, some of them wishing a federative government, others, the enrages, desiring the death of the king and of all allied to the nobility; but none of thqse were republicans.

Those few deputies who had just ideas of a commonwealth, and whose leader was Paine, did not belong to the jacobin club.

I mention this, because Mr. Paine took

culars of Mr. Paine's introduction to the president of the convention, to the ministers, and different committees; his being appointed a deputy, and a member of the committee of constitution, &c. &c. &c.

infinite trouble to instill into their minds thedifference between liberty and licentiousness, and the danger to the peace, good order, and well-doing of society, that must arise from letting the latter encroach on the prerogatives of the former.

He laboured incessantly to preserve the life of the king, and he succeeded in making some converts to his opinions on this subject; and his life would have been saved but for Barrere, who having been appointed by Robespierre to an office he was ambitious of obtaining, and certainly very fit for, his influence brought with it forty votes; so early was corruption introduced into this assembl}7. For Calais, Mr. Paine was returned deputy to the convention; he was elected as well for Versailles, but as the former town first did him the honour he became its representative. He was extremely desirous and expected to be appointed one of the deputies to Holland; a circumstance that probably would have taken place had not the committee of constitution delayed so long the production of the new form that the jacobins anticipated them, and putw lished proposals for a new constitution before the committee.

This delay was owing to the jealousy of Condorcet who had written the preface, part of which some of the members thought should have been in the body of the work.

Brissot and the whole party of the Gerondites lost ground daily after this; and with them died away all that was national, just, and humane: they were however highly to blame for their want of energy.

In the beginning of April 1793, the convention received the letter from Dumourier that put all Trance in a panic: in this letter he mentioned the confidence the army had in him, and his intention of marching to Paris to restore to France her constitutional king: this had the strongest effect, as it was accompanied by an address from the prince of Coburg, in which he agreed to co-operate with Dumourier.

Mr. Paine, who never considered the vast difference between the circumstances of the two countries, France and America, suggested an idea that Dumourier might be brought about by appointing certain deputies to wait on him coolly and dispassionately, to hear his grievances, and armed with powers to redress them.

On this subject he addressed a letter to the convention, in which he instanced the case of an American general who receded with the army under his command in consequence of his being dissatisfied with the proceedings of congress. The congress were panic struck by this event, and gave up all for lost; but when the first impression of alarm subsided they sent a deputation from their own body to the general, who with his staff gave them the meeting; and thus matters were again reinstated. But there was too much impetuosity and faction in the French convention to admit of such temperate proceedings.

Mr. Paine, however, had written the letter, opinion of it, will be best understood by the following letter never before published.

"To Sir Archibald Macdonald,

"Attorney General. "Sir,

"Though I have some reasons for believing that you were not the original promoter or encourager of the prosecution commenced against the work entitled 'Rights of Man,' either as that prosecution is intended to effect the author, the publisher, or the public; yet as you appear the official person therein, I address this letter to you, not as Sir Archibald Macdonald, but as attorney general.

"You began by a prosecution against the publisher Jordan, and the reason assigned by Mr. Secretary Dundas, in the House of Commons in the debate on the proclamation, May 25, for taking that measure, was, he said, because Mr. Paine could not be found, or words to that effect. Mr. Paine, sir, so far from secreting himself, never went a step out of his way, nor in the least instance varied

« EdellinenJatka »