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Atlantic Monthly, Vol. IV, No. 26, December, 1859 by Various

Part 2 out of 5

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leaning upon his hand.

"You all know," he said, turning toward Mary, who sat very near him,
"the near and dear relation in which I have been expected to stand
towards this friend. I should not have been worthy of that relation, if
I had not felt in my heart the true love of a husband, as set forth in
the New Testament,--who should love his wife even as Christ loved the
Church and gave himself for it; and in case any peril or danger
threatened this dear soul, and I could not give myself for her, I had
never been worthy the honor she has done me. For, I take it, whenever
there is a cross or burden to be borne by one or the other, that the
man, who is made in the image of God as to strength and endurance,
should take it upon himself, and not lay it upon her that is weaker;
for he is therefore strong, not that he may tyrannize over the weak,
but bear their burdens for them, even as Christ for his Church.

"I have just discovered," he added, looking kindly upon Mary, "that
there is a great cross and burden which must come, either on this dear
child or on myself, through no fault of either of us, but through God's
good providence; and therefore let me bear it.

"Mary, my dear child," he said, "I will be to thee as a father, but I
will not force thy heart."

At this moment, Mary, by a sudden, impulsive movement, threw her arms
around his neck and kissed him, and lay sobbing on his shoulder.

"No! no!" she said,--"I will marry you, as I said!"

"Not, if I will not," he replied, with a benign smile. "Come here,
young man," he said, with some authority, to James. "I give thee this
maiden to wife." And he lifted her from his shoulder, and placed her
gently in the arms of the young man, who, overawed and overcome,
pressed her silently to his heart.

"There, children, it is over," he said. "God bless you!"

"Take her away," he added; "she will be more composed soon."

Before James left, he grasped the Doctor's hand in his, and said,--

"Sir, this tells on my heart more than any sermon you ever preached. I
shall never forget it. God bless you, Sir!"

The Doctor saw them slowly quit the apartment, and, following them,
closed the door; and thus ended THE MINISTER'S WOOING.



Of the events which followed this scene we are happy to give our
readers more minute and graphic details than we ourselves could
furnish, by transcribing for their edification an autograph letter of
Miss Prissy's, still preserved in a black oaken cabinet of our
great-grandmother's; and with which we take no further liberties than
the correction of a somewhat peculiar orthography. It is written to
that sister "Lizabeth," in Boston, of whom she made such frequent
mention, and whom, it appears, it was her custom to keep well-informed
in all the gossip of her immediate sphere.


"You wonder, I s'pose, why I haven't written you; but the fact is, I've
been run just off my feet, and worked till the flesh aches so it seems
as if it would drop off my bones, with this wedding of Mary Scudder's.
And, after all, you'll be astonished to hear that she ha'n't married
the Doctor, but that Jim Marvyn that I told you about. You see, he came
home a week before the wedding was to be, and Mary, she was so
conscientious she thought 'twa'n't right to break off with the Doctor,
and so she was for going right on with it; and Mrs. Scudder, she was
for going on more yet; and the poor young man, he couldn't get a word
in edgeways, and there wouldn't anybody tell the Doctor a word about
it, and there 'twas drifting along, and both on 'em feeling dreadful,
and so I thought to myself, 'I'll just take my life in my hand, like
Queen Esther, and go in and tell the Doctor all about it.' And so I
did. I'm scared to death always when I think of it. But that dear
blessed man, he took it like a saint. He just gave her up as serene and
calm as a psalm-book, and called Jim in and told him to take her.

"Jim was fairly overcrowed,--it really made him feel small,--and he
says he'll agree that there is more in the Doctor's religion than most
men's: which shows how important it is for professing Christians to
bear testimony in their works,--as I was telling Cerinthy Ann Twitchel:
and she said there wa'n't anything made her want to be a Christian so
much, if that was what religion would do for people.

"Well, you see, when this came out, it wanted just three days of the
wedding, which was to be Thursday, and that wedding-dress I told you
about, that had lilies-of-the-valley on a white ground, was pretty much
made, except puffing the gauze round the neck, which I do with white
satin piping-cord, and it looks beautiful too; and so Mrs. Scudder and
I, we were thinking 'twould do just as well, when in come Jim Marvyn,
bringing the sweetest thing you ever saw, that he had got in China, and
I think I never did see anything lovelier. It was a white silk, as
thick as a board, and so stiff that it would stand alone, and overshot
with little fine dots of silver, so that it shone, when you moved it,
just like frostwork; and when I saw it, I just clapped my hands, and
jumped up from the floor, and says I, 'If I have to sit up all night,
that dress shall be made, and made well, too.' For, you know, I thought
I could get Miss Olladine Hocum to run the breadths and do such parts,
so that I could devote myself to the fine work. And that French woman I
told you about, she said she'd help, and she's a master hand for
touching things up. There seems to be work provided for all kinds of
people, and French people seem to have a gift in all sorts of dressy
things, and 'tisn't a bad gift either.

"Well, as I was saying, we agreed that this was to be cut open with a
train, and a petticoat of just the palest, sweetest, loveliest blue
that ever you saw, and gauze puffings down the edgings each side,
fastened in, every once in a while, with lilies-of-the-valley; and
'twas cut square in the neck, with puffings and flowers to match, and
then tight sleeves, with full ruffles of that old Mechlin lace that you
remember Mrs. Katy Scudder showed you once in that great camphor-wood

"Well, you see, come to get all things together that were to be done,
we concluded to put off the wedding till Tuesday; and Madame de
Frontignac, she would dress the best room for it herself, and she spent
nobody knows what time in going round and getting evergreens and making
wreaths, and putting up green boughs over the pictures, so that the
room looked just like the Episcopal church at Christmas. In fact, Mrs.
Scudder said, if it had been Christmas, she shouldn't have felt it
right, but, as it was, she didn't think anybody would think it any

"Well, Tuesday night, I and Madame de Frontignac, we dressed Mary
ourselves, and, I tell you, the dress fitted as if it was grown on her;
and Madame de Frontignac, she dressed her hair; and she had on a wreath
of lilies-of-the-valley, and a gauze veil that came almost down to her
feet, and came all around her like a cloud, and you could see her white
shining dress through it every time she moved, and she looked just as
white as a snow-berry; but there were two little pink spots that came
coming and going in her cheeks, that kind of lightened up when she
smiled, and then faded down again. And the French lady put a string of
real pearls round her neck, with a cross of pearls, which went down and
lay hid in her bosom.

"She was mighty calm-like while she was being dressed; but just as I
was putting in the last pin, she heard the rumbling of a coach
down-stairs, for Jim Marvyn had got a real elegant carriage to carry
her over to his father's in, and so she knew he was come. And pretty
soon Mrs. Marvyn came in the room, and when she saw Mary, her brown
eyes kind of danced, and she lifted up both hands, to see how beautiful
she looked. And Jim Marvyn, he was standing at the door, and they told
him it wasn't proper that he should see till the time come; but he
begged so hard that he might just have one peep, that I let him come
in, and he looked at her as if she was something he wouldn't dare to
touch; and he said to me softly, says he, 'I'm 'most afraid she has got
wings somewhere that will fly away from me, or that I shall wake up and
find it is a dream.'

"Well, Cerinthy Ann Twitchel was the bridesmaid, and she came next with
that young man she is engaged to. It is all out now, that she is
engaged, and she don't deny it. And Cerinthy, she looked handsomer than
I ever saw her, in a white brocade, with rosebuds on it, which I guess
she got in reference to the future, for they say she is going to be
married next month.

"Well, we all filled up the room pretty well, till Mrs. Scudder came in
to tell us that the company were all together; and then they took hold
of arms, and they had a little time practising how they must stand, and
Cerinthy Ann's beau would always get her on the wrong side, 'cause he's
rather bashful, and don't know very well what he's about; and Cerinthy
Ann declared she was afraid that she should laugh out in prayer-time,
'cause she always did laugh when she knew she mus'n't. But finally Mrs.
Scudder told us we must go in, and looked so reproving at Cerinthy that
she had to hold her mouth with her pocket-handkerchief.

"Well, the old Doctor was standing there in the very silk gown that the
ladies gave him to be married in himself,--poor, dear man!--and he
smiled kind of peaceful on 'em when they came in, and walked up to a
kind of bower of evergreens and flowers that Madame de Frontignac had
fixed for them to stand in. Mary grew rather white, as if she was going
to faint; but Jim Marvyn stood up just as firm, and looked as proud and
handsome as a prince, and he kind of looked down at her,--'cause, you
know, he is a great deal taller,--kind of wondering, as if he wanted to
know if it was really so. Well, when they got all placed, they let the
doors stand open, and Cato and Candace came and stood in the door. And
Candace had on her great splendid Mogadore turban, and a crimson and
yellow shawl, that she seemed to take comfort in wearing, although it
was pretty hot.

"Well, so when they were all fixed, the Doctor, he begun his
prayer,--and as 'most all of us knew what a great sacrifice he had
made, I don't believe there was a dry eye in the room; and when he had
done, there was a great time,--people blowing their noses and wiping
their eyes, as if it had been a funeral. Then Cerinthy Ann, she pulled
off Mary's glove pretty quick; but that poor beau of hers, he made such
work of James's that he had to pull it off himself, after all, and
Cerinthy Ann, she liked to have laughed out loud. And so when the
Doctor told them to join hands, Jim took hold of Mary's hand as if he
didn't mean to let go very soon, and so they were married.

"I was the first one that kissed the bride after Mrs. Scudder;--I got
that promise out of Mary when I was making the dress. And Jim Marvyn,
he insisted upon kissing me,--''Cause,' says he, 'Miss Prissy, you are
as young and handsome as any of 'em'; and I told him he was a saucy
fellow, and I'd box his ears, if I could reach them.

"That French lady looked lovely, dressed in pale pink silk, with long
pink wreaths of flowers in her hair; and she came up and kissed Mary,
and said something to her in French.

"And after a while old Candace came up, and Mary kissed her; and then
Candace put her arms round Jim's neck, and gave him a real hearty
smack, so that everybody laughed.

"And then the cake and the wine was passed round, and everybody had
good times till we heard the nine-o'clock-bell ring. And then the coach
come up to the door, and Mrs. Scudder, she wrapped Mary up, kissing
her, and crying over her, while Mrs. Marvyn stood stretching her arms
out of the coach after her; and then Cato and Candace went after in the
wagon behind, and so they all went off together; and that was the end
of the wedding; and ever since then we ha'n't any of us done much but
rest, for we were pretty much beat out. So no more at present from your
affectionate sister,


"P.S.--I forgot to tell you that Jim Marvyn has come home quite rich.
He fell in with a man in China who was at the head of one of their
great merchant-houses, whom he nursed through a long fever, and took
care of his business, and so, when he got well, nothing would do but he
must have him for a partner; and now he is going to live in this
country and attend to the business of the firm here. They say he is
going to build a house as grand as the Vernons'. And we hope he has
experienced religion; and he means to join our church, which is a
providence, for he is twice as rich and generous as that old Simeon
Brown that snapped me up so about my wages. I never believed in him,
for all his talk. I was down to Mrs. Scudder's when the Doctor examined
Jim about his evidences. At first the Doctor seemed a little anxious,
'cause he didn't talk in the regular way; for you know Jim always did
have his own way of talking, and never could say things in other
people's words; and sometimes he makes folks laugh, when he himself
don't know what they laugh at, because he hits the nail on the head in
some strange way they aren't expecting. If I was to have died, I
couldn't help laughing at some things he said; and yet I don't think I
ever felt more solemnized. He sat up there in a sort of grand,
straightforward, noble way, and told all the way the Lord had been
leading of him, and all the exercises of his mind, and all about the
dreadful shipwreck, and how he was saved, and the loving-kindness of
the Lord, till the Doctor's spectacles got all blinded with tears, and
he couldn't see the notes he made to examine him by; and we all cried,
Mrs. Scudder, and Mary, and I; and as to Mrs. Marvyn, she just sat with
her--hands clasped, looking into her son's eyes, like a picture of the
Virgin Mary. And when Jim got through, there wa'n't nothing to be heard
for some minutes; and the Doctor; he wiped his eyes, and wiped his
glasses, and looked over his papers, but he couldn't bring out a word,
and at last says he, "Let us pray,"--for that was all there was to be
said; for I think sometimes things so kind of fills folks up that there
a'n't nothing to be done but pray, which, the Lord be praised, we are
privileged to do always. Between you and I, Martha, I never could
understand all the distinctions our dear, blessed Doctor sets up; but
when he publishes his system, if I work my fingers to the bone, I mean
to buy one and study it out, because he is such a blessed man; though,
after all's said, I have come back to my old place, and trust to the
loving-kindness of the Lord, who takes care of the sparrow on the
house-top, and all small, lone creatures like me; though I can't say
I'm lone either, because nobody need say that, so long as there's folks
to be done for. So if I _don't_ understand the Doctor's theology, or
don't get eyes to read it, on account of the fine stitching on his
shirt-ruffles I've been trying to do, still I hope I may be accepted on
account of the Lord's great goodness; for if we can't trust that, it's
all over with us all."



We know it is fashionable to drop the curtain over a newly married
pair, they recede from the altar; but we cannot but hope our readers
may by this time have enough of interest in our little history to wish
for a few words on the lot of the personages whose acquaintance they
have thereby made.

The conjectures of Miss Prissy in regard to the grand house which James
was to build for his bride were as speedily as possible realized. On a
beautiful elevation, a little out of the town of Newport, rose a fair
and stately mansion, whose windows overlooked the harbor, and whose
wide, cool rooms were adorned by thy constant presence of the sweet
face and form which has been the guiding star of our story. The fair
poetic maiden, the seeress, the saint, has passed into that appointed
shrine for woman, more holy than cloister, more saintly and pure than
church or altar,--_a Christian home_. Priestess, wife, and mother,
there she ministers daily in holy works of household peace, and by
faith and prayer and love redeems from grossness and earthliness the
common toils and wants of life.

The gentle guiding force that led James Marvyn from the maxims and
habits and ways of this world to the higher conception of an heroic and
Christ-like manhood was still ever present with him, gently touching
the springs of life, brooding peacefully with dovelike wings over his
soul, and he grew up under it noble in purpose and strong in spirit. He
was one of the most energetic and fearless supporters of the Doctor in
his life-long warfare against an inhumanity which was intrenched in all
the mercantile interests of the day, and which at last fell before the
force of conscience and moral appeal.

Candace in time transferred her allegiance to the growing family of her
young master and mistress, and predominated proudly in gorgeous raiment
with her butterfly turban over a rising race of young Marvyns. All the
care not needed by them was bestowed upon the somewhat querulous old
age of Cato, whose never-failing cough furnished occupation for all her
spare hours and thought.

As for our friend the Doctor, we trust our readers will appreciate the
magnanimity with which he proved a real and disinterested love, in a
point where so many men experience only the graspings of a selfish one.
A mind so severely trained as his had been brings to a great crisis,
involving severe self-denial, an amount of reserved moral force quite
inexplicable to those less habituated to self-control. He was like a
warrior whose sleep even was in armor, always ready to be roused to the

In regard to his feelings for Mary, he made the sacrifice of himself to
her happiness so wholly and thoroughly that there was not a moment of
weak hesitation,--no going back over the past,--no vain regret.
Generous and brave souls find a support in such actions, because the
very exertion raises them to a higher and purer plane of existence.

His diary records the event only in these very calm and temperate
words:--"It was a trial to me,--_a very great_ trial; but as she did
not deceive me, I shall never lose my friendship for her."

The Doctor was always a welcome inmate in the house of Mary and James,
as a friend revered and dear. Nor did he want in time a hearthstone of
his own, where a bright and loving face made him daily welcome; for we
find that he married at last a woman of a fair countenance, and that
sons and daughters grew up around him.

In time, also, his theological system was published. In that day, it
was customary to dedicate new or important works to the patronage of
some distinguished or powerful individual. The Doctor had no earthly
patron. Four or five simple lines are found in the commencement of his
work, in which, in a spirit reverential and affectionate, he dedicates
it to our Lord Jesus Christ, praying Him to accept the good, and to
overrule the errors to His glory.

Quite unexpectedly to himself, the work proved a success, not only in
public acceptance and esteem, but even in a temporal view, bringing to
him at last a modest competence, which he accepted with surprise and
gratitude. To the last of a very long life, he was the same steady,
undiscouraged worker, the same calm witness against popular sins and
proclaimer of unpopular truths, ever saying and doing what he saw to be
eternally right, without the slightest consultation with worldly
expediency or earthly gain; nor did his words cease to work in New
England till the evils he opposed were finally done away.

Colonel Burr leaves the scene of our story to pursue those brilliant
and unscrupulous political intrigues so well known to the historian of
those times, and whose results were so disastrous to himself. His duel
with the ill-fated Hamilton, the awful retribution of public opinion
that followed, and the slow downward course of a doomed life are all on
record. Chased from society, pointed at everywhere by the finger of
hatred, so accursed in common esteem that even the publican who lodged
him for a night refused to accept his money when he knew his name,
heart-stricken in his domestic relations, his only daughter taken by
pirates and dying amid untold horrors,--one seems to see in a doom so
much above that of other men the power of an avenging Nemesis for sins
beyond those of ordinary humanity.

But we who have learned of Christ may humbly hope that these crushing
miseries in this life came not because he was a sinner above
others,--not in wrath alone,--but that the prayers of the sweet saint
who gave him to God even before his birth brought to him those friendly
adversities, that thus might be slain in his soul the evil demon of
pride, which had been the opposing force to all that was noble within
him. Nothing is more affecting than the account of the last hours of
this man, whom a woman took in and cherished in his poverty and
weakness with that same heroic enthusiasm with which it was his lot to
inspire so many women. This humble keeper of lodgings was told, that,
if she retained Aaron Burr, all her other lodgers would leave. "Let
them do it, then," she said; "but he shall remain." In the same
uncomplaining and inscrutable silence in which he had borne the
reverses and miseries of his life did this singular being pass through
the shades of the dark valley. The New Testament was always under his
pillow, and when alone he was often found reading it attentively; but
of the result of that communion with Higher Powers he said nothing.
Patient, gentle, and grateful, he was, as to all his inner history,
entirely silent and impenetrable. He died with the request, which has a
touching significance, that he might be buried at the feet of those
parents whose lives had finished so differently from his own.

"No farther seek his errors to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode."

Shortly after Mary's marriage, Madame de Frontignac sailed with her
husband for home, where they lived in a very retired way on a large
estate in the South of France. An intimate correspondence was kept up
between her and Mary for many years, from which we shall give our
readers a few extracts. Her first letter is dated shortly after her
return to France.

"At last, my sweet Marie, you behold us in peace after our wanderings.
I wish you could see our lovely nest in the hills which overlook the
Mediterranean, whose blue waters remind me of Newport harbor and our
old days there. Ah, my sweet saint, blessed was the day I first learned
to know you! for it was you, more than anything else, that kept me back
from sin and misery. I call you my Sibyl, dearest, because the Sibyl
was a prophetess of divine things out of the Church; and so are you.
The Abbe says, that all true, devout persons of all persuasions belong
to the True Catholic Apostolic Church, and will in the end be
enlightened to know it. What do you think of that, _ma belle?_ I fancy
I see you look at me with your grave, innocent eyes, just as you used
to; but you say nothing.

"I am far happier, _ma Marie_, than I ever thought I could be. I took
your advice, and told my husband all I had felt and suffered. It was a
very hard thing to do; but I felt how true it was, as you said, that
there could be no real friendship without perfect truth at bottom; so I
told him all, and he was very good and noble and helpful to me; and
since then he has been so gentle and patient and thoughtful, that no
mother could be kinder; and I should be a very bad woman, if I did not
love him truly and dearly,--as I do.

"I must confess that there is still a weak, bleeding place in my heart
that aches yet, but I try to bear it bravely; and when I am tempted to
think myself very miserable, I remember how patiently you used to go
about your house-work and spinning, in those sad days when you thought
your heart was drowned in the sea; and I try to do like you. I have
many duties to my servants and tenants, and mean to be a good
_chatelaine_; and I find, when I nurse the sick and comfort the poor,
that my sorrows are lighter. For, after all, Marie, I have lost nothing
that ever was mine,--only my foolish heart has grown to something that
it should not, and bleeds at being torn away. Nobody but Christ and His
dear Mother can tell what this sorrow is; but they know, and that is

The next letter is dated some three years after.

"You see me now, my Marie, a proud and happy woman. I was truly
envious, when you wrote me of the birth of your little son; but now the
dear good God has sent a sweet little angel to me, to comfort my
sorrows and lie close to my heart; and since he came, all pain is gone.
Ah, if you could see him! he has black eyes, and lashes like silk, and
such little hands!--even his finger-nails are all perfect, like little
gems; and when he puts his little hand on my bosom, I tremble with joy.
Since he came, I pray always, and the good God seems very near to me.
Now I realize, as I never did before, the sublime thought that God
revealed Himself in the infant Jesus; and I bow before the manger of
Bethlehem where the Holy Babe was laid. What comfort, what adorable
condescension for us mothers in that scene!--My husband is so moved, he
can scarce stay an hour from the cradle. He seems to look at me with a
sort of awe, because I know how to care for this precious treasure that
he adores without daring to touch. We are going to call him Henri,
which is my husband's name and that of his ancestors for many
generations back. I vow for him an eternal friendship with the son of
my little Marie; and I shall try and train him up to be a brave man and
a true Christian. Ah, Marie, this gives me something to live for! My
heart is full,--a whole new life opens before me!"

Somewhat later, another letter announces the birth of a daughter,--and
later still, the birth of another son; but we shall add only one more,
written some years after, on hearing of the great reverses of popular
feeling towards Burr, subsequently to his duel with the ill-fated

"_Ma chere Marie_,--Your letter has filled me with grief. My noble
Henri, who already begins to talk of himself as my protector, (these
boys feel their manhood so soon, _ma Marie_!) saw by my face, when I
read your letter, that something pained me, and he would not rest till
I told him something about it. Ah, Marie, how thankful I then felt that
I had nothing to blush for before my son! how thankful for those dear
children whose little hands had healed all the morbid places of my
heart, so that I could think of all the past without a pang! I told
Henri that the letter brought bad news of an old friend, but that it
pained me to speak of it; and you would have thought, by the grave and
tender way he talked to his mamma, that the boy was an experienced man
of forty, to say the least.

"But, Marie, how unjust is the world! how unjust both in praise and
blame! Poor Burr was the petted child of Society; yesterday she doted
on him, flattered him, smiled on his faults, and let him do what he
would without reproof; to-day she flouts and scorns and scoffs him, and
refuses to see the least good in him. I know that man, Marie,--and I
know, that, sinful as he may be before Infinite Purity, he is not so
much more sinful than all the other men of his time. Have I not been in
America? I know Jefferson; I knew poor Hamilton,--peace be with the
dead! Neither of them had a life that could bear the sort of trial to
which Burr's is subjected. When every secret fault, failing, and sin is
dragged out, and held up without mercy, what man can stand?

"But I know what irritates the world is that proud, disdainful calm
which will give neither sigh nor tear. It was not that he killed poor
Hamilton, but that he never seemed to care! Ah, there is that evil
demon of his life,--that cold, stoical pride, which haunts him like a
fate! But I know he _does_ feel; I know he is not as hard at heart as
he tries to be; I have seen too many real acts of pity to the
unfortunate, of tenderness to the weak, of real love to his friends, to
believe that. Great have been his sins against our sex, and God forbid
that the mothers of children should speak lightly of them I but is not
so susceptible a temperament, and so singular a power to charm as he
possessed, to be taken into account in estimating his temptations?
Because he is a sinning man, it does not follow that he is a demon. If
any should have cause to think bitterly of him, I should. He trifled
inexcusably with my deepest feelings; he caused me years of conflict
and anguish, such as he little knows; I was almost shipwrecked; yet I
will still say to the last that what I loved in him was a better
self,--something really noble and good, however concealed and perverted
by pride, ambition, and self-will. Though all the world reject him, I
still have faith in this better nature, and prayers that he may be led
right at last. There is at least one heart that will always intercede
with God for him."

It is well known, that, for many years after Burr's death, the odium
that covered his name was so great that no monument was erected, lest
it should become a mark for popular violence. Subsequently, however, in
a mysterious manner, a plain granite slab marked his grave; by whom
erected has never been known. It was placed in the night by some
friendly, unknown hand. A laborer in the vicinity, who first discovered
it, found lying near the spot a small _porte-monnaie_, which had
perhaps been used in paying for the workmanship. It contained no papers
that could throw any light on the subject, except the fragment of the
address of a letter on which was written "Henri de Frontignac."


The stars are watching at their posts
And raining silence from the sky,
And, guarded by the heavenly hosts,
Earth closes her day-wearied eye.

A reign of holy quietness
Replaces the tumultuous light,
And Nature's weary tribes confess
The calm beatitude of Night:

When from the Arctic pit up-steams
The Boreal fire's portentous glare,
And, bursting into arrowy streams,
Hurls horrid splendors on the air.

The embattled meteors scale the arch,
And toss their lurid banners wide;
Heaven reels with their tempestuous march,
And quivers in the flashing tide.

Against the everlasting stars,
Against the old empyreal Right,
They vainly wage their anarch wars,
In vain they urge their fatuous light.

The skies may flash and meteors glare,
And Hell invade the spheral school;
But Law and Love are sovereign there,
And Sirius and Orion rule.

The stars are watching at their posts,
Again the Silences prevail;
The meteor crew, like guilty ghosts,
Have slunk to the infernal jail.

The truths of God forever shine,
Though Error glare and Falsehood rage;
The cause of Order is divine,
And Wisdom rules from age to age.

Faith, Hope, and Love, your time abide!
Let Hades marshal all his hosts,
The heavenly forces with you side,
The stars are watching at their posts.


Paine landed at Havre in May, A.D. 1787, _aet. suae_ 50, with many
titles to social success. He brought with him a literary fame which
ranks higher in France than elsewhere; and his works were in the
fashionable line of the day. He had been an energetic actor in the
American Revolution,--a subject of unbounded enthusiasm with Frenchmen,
who look upon it, to this day, as an achievement of their own. And he
could boast of a scientific _specialite_, without which no intelligent
gentleman was complete in the last third of the eighteenth century.
Philosopher, American, republican, friend of humanity, _savant_,--he
could show every claim to notice. Besides all this, and better than
all, he brought letters from Franklin, the charming old man, whose
fondness for "that dear nation" which he could not leave without regret
was returned a thousand fold by its admiring affection. De Rayneval did
not exaggerate when he wrote to him,--"You will carry with you the
affection of all France"; and De Chastellux told the simple truth in
the graceful compliment he sent to the old sage after his return
home,--"When you were here, we had no need to praise the Americans; we
had only to say, 'Look! here is their representative.'" Let us devoutly
pray that our ambassadors may not be made use of for the same purpose

For these reasons, Paine's reception in Paris was cordial; visits and
invitations poured in upon him; he dined with Malesherbes; M. Le Roy
took him to Buffon's, where he saw some interesting experiments on
inflammable air; the Abbe Morellet exerted himself to get the model of
his bridge, which had been stopped at the custom-house, safely to
Paris. Through their influence it was submitted to a committee of the
Academie des Sciences; their report was, in substance, that the iron
bridge of M. Paine was _ingenieusement imagine_,--that it merited an
attempt to execute it, and furnished a new example of the application
of a metal which had not yet been sufficiently used on a large scale.

Two other gentlemen from America, who were interested in science and in
mechanics, were in Paris at that time. Rumsey was there with his model
of a steamboat; and Thomas Jefferson, whose curiosity extended to all
things visible or audible, was busily collecting ground-plans and
elevations, and preparing to add at least two ugly buildings to a State
"over which," as he himself wrote, "the Genius of Architecture had
showered his malediction."

Unfortunately for inventors, the times were not favorable for the
construction of boats or of bridges. A taste had sprung up in France
for constitution-making, one of the most difficult and expensive of
public works. A translation of the American State Constitutions
attracted more attention in Paris than Paine's iron-work; for these
also, the French thought, were _ingenieusement imaginees_, and worthy
of an attempt to execute them abroad. The American Revolution, with its
brilliant termination of wisdom, liberty, and peace, seemed to promise
similar good results to the efforts of reformers elsewhere. Treatises
on moral science and on the nature and end of civil government were
eagerly read, "_Humanite, mot nouveau_," as Cousin says, became the
watch-word of the Parisians. It was the fashion among all classes, high
as well as low, to talk of human rights, to exalt the virtue of the
people, hitherto supposed to have none, and to execrate "bloody
tyrants," "silly despots," the members of the kingly profession, which
fell into such sad disfavor towards the end of the last century. Segur,
after his return from America, heard the whole court applaud these
lines at the theatre:--

"Je suis fils de Brutus, et je porte en mon coeur
La liberte gravee et les rois en horreur."

None suspected whither the road would lead which they were pursuing
with so much gayety and enlightenment. Philosophers, nobles, and
parliaments all clamored for reform--in others; and for the public
good, provided their own goods did not suffer. The King meant reform;
he, at least, was in earnest. But how to get it? He had sought
assistance from the middle classes; had tried Turgot, the political
economist, and Necker, the banker, as ministers; but both broke down
under the opposition of the nobility. Then Calonne volunteered, witty
and reckless, and convoked the notables, or not-ables, as Lafayette
called them in one of his American letters, borrowing a bad pun from
Thomas Paine. Calonne could do nothing with the notables, who
obstinately refused to submit to taxation. Brienne, Archbishop of
Toulouse, took his place. This was in April, 1787, a month before
Paine's arrival in France. The notables suddenly became manageable
under the new minister, and voted all the necessary taxes; but now the
parliaments grew restive, refused to register the edicts, declaring
that they had not the legal right to consent to taxes, that the
States-General alone had authority to impose new ones. Brienne,
indignant at this perverseness,--for hitherto they had claimed the sole
right of registering taxes,--forced them to register the stamp-tax and
the land-tax, and exiled them to Troyes. This took place on the 15th of
August. The same day the two brothers of the King went to register the
edicts in the Cour des Comptes and the _Cour des Aides_. Monsieur was
received with acclamations; but D'Artois, who belonged to the unpopular
Calonne party, was hissed and jostled by the crowd. Alarmed, he ordered
his guard to close about him. "I was standing in one of the apartments
through which he had to pass," says Paine, "and could not avoid
reflecting how wretched is the condition of a disrespected man."

Evidently no bridges to be built here at present. It would be better to
try in England, Paine thought, and in September crossed to London. Sir
Joseph Banks, a great scientific authority, thought well of his model,
and recommended the construction of one on a larger scale. The
different parts of the new bridge were cast in a Yorkshire foundry
belonging to Thomas Walker, a Whig friend of the inventor, brought by
sea to London, and erected in an open field at Faddington, where the
structure was inspected by great numbers of people. After standing
there a year, it was taken down, and the materials used in building a
bridge over the river Wear at Sunderland, of two hundred and thirty-six
feet span, with a rise of thirty-four feet. This bridge is still in

[Footnote 1: Stephenson says, in rather bad English, (we quote from the
_Quarterly_),--"If we are to consider Paine as its author, his daring
in engineering certainly does full justice to the fervor of his
political career; for, successful as the result has undoubtedly proved,
want of experience and consequent ignorance of the risk could alone
have induced so bold an experiment; and we are rather led to wonder at
than to admire a structure which, as regards its proportions and the
small quantity of material employed in its construction, will probably
remain unrivalled,"--thus resembling the spider's web, which furnished;
the original suggestion. In 1801, when Paine had exhausted his theory
of human rights in France, he offered his plan to Chaptal, the Minister
of the Interior, who proposed to build an iron bridge over the Seine.
Two years later, after his return to America, he addressed a memorial
to Congress on the same subject, offering the nation the invention as a
free gift, and his own services to superintend the structure; but
neither Chaptal nor Congress thought fit to accept his offer.]

Paine had forgotten his bridge long before it was taken down. His soul
was engrossed by the contemplation of the wonderful event which was
daily developing itself in France. Bankruptcy had brought on the
crisis. In August, 1788, the interest was not paid on the national
debt, and Brienne resigned. The States-General met in May of the next
year; in June they declared themselves a national assembly, and
commenced work upon a constitution under the direction of Sieyes, who
well merited the epithet, "indefatigable constitution-grinder," applied
to Paine by Cobbett. Not long after, the attempted _coup d'etat_ of
Louis XVI. failed, the Bastille was demolished, and the political
Saturnalia of the French people began.

It is evident, that, in the beginning, Paine did not aspire to be the
political Prometheus of England. He rather looked to the Whig party and
to Mr. Burke as the leaders in such a movement. As for himself, a
veteran reformer from another hemisphere, he was willing to serve as a
volunteer in the campaign against the oppressors of mankind. He had
adopted for his motto, "Where liberty is not, there is my country,"--a
negative variation of Franklin's saying, which suited his tempestuous
character. As he flitted to and fro across the Channel, observing with
sharp, eager eyes the progress of "principles" in France, gradually
there arose in his mind the thought that poor, old, worn-out England
might be regenerated by these new methods. "The French are doubling
their strength," he wrote, "by allying, if it may be so expressed, (for
it is difficult to express a new idea by old terms,) the majesty of the
sovereign with the majesty of the nation."

Paris swarmed with enthusiastic "friends of humanity," English, Scotch,
and Irish. Among them Paine naturally took a foremost position, being
an authority in revolutionary matters, and a man who had principles on
the subject of government. In spite of his contempt of titles, he wrote
himself, "Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the Congress of the United
States," slightly improving upon the office he had actually held, to
suit the sound to European capacity,--showing that in this, likewise,
he possessed a genuine American element of character. Lafayette thought
much of him, used his pen freely, and listened to his advice. The
Marquis, warm-hearted, honest, but endowed with little judgment and a
womanish vanity, was trying to make himself the Washington of a French
federative republic, and felt happy in having secured the experienced
services of Mr. Paine. He wrote to his great master,--"'Common Sense'
is writing a book for you, and there you will see a part of my
adventures. Liberty is springing up around us in the other parts of
Europe, and I am encouraging it by all the means in my power." Paine
was in Paris when the Bastille was taken. Lafayette placed the key in
his hands, to be transmitted to Washington. Paine wrote to the
President, "That the principles of America opened the Bastille is not
to be doubted, and therefore the key comes to the right place."
Washington, returning his thanks to Paine for the key, added,--"It will
give you pleasure to learn that the new government answers its purposes
as well as could have been reasonably expected." Yes! and still answers
reasonable purposes to this day. In the mean while dozens of French
constitutions, "perfections of human wisdom," have been invented, set
up, and crushed to atoms.

It was a time of revival in politics. Holland was indulging in hope,
Germany was anxious, and steady old England began to lend an ear to the
new doctrines from the other side of the Channel. The tendency of the
human mind to believe in a golden future, until knowledge of the world
and reflection teach us that these bright visions always shrink into
the ordinary dimensions of the present as they approach it, misled
enthusiastic Englishmen, many of them of a high order of intelligence.
There was something grand in the idea, that the prejudices and the
abuses of twenty centuries had been buried forever in the ruins of the
old French monarchy. This was not enough. All governments and all
prejudices of society were to be thrown into the melting-pot; out of
the fusion was to arise the new era, the millennium. All other evil
things would cease to exist, as well as monopolies, titles, places, and
pensions. Sickness, even death, perhaps, might be evaded by the skill
of a new science. Who could tell? Franklin had suggested this, half in
jest, years before; Condorcet believed and asserted it now. Ignorance
and misery, at all events, should come to an end. When kings and a
wicked self-seeking aristocracy should be swept away, the divine sense
of right, which God had implanted in the people, would rule; there
could be no wars; armies and fleets would become useless; taxes would
amount to nothing. All the nations would form one grand republic, with
a universal convention sitting at the world's centre, to watch over the
rights of man! Liberty, virtue, happiness, seemed ready to descend upon
the earth.

"Jam nova progenies caelo demittitur alto,
Ac toto surget gens aurea mundo."

As each week brought the news of some stupendous change, a kind of
madness seized upon the minds of men. Fanatics were jubilant.
"Revolutions," they said, "can do no wrong; all are for the best."
Englishmen, hitherto sane, forgot their nationality, and became violent
Frenchmen. So strongly did the current set in this direction, that the
massacres of September, the execution of the King, the despotism of the
Directory and the Consulship could not turn it, until Napoleon united
all France under him and all England against him. As late as 1793, such
men as James Watt, Jr., and the poet Wordsworth were in Paris, on
intimate terms with Robespierre and his Committee.

Before 1789, there was no particular discontent in England. Some talk
there had been of reform in the representation, and the usual
complaints of the burden of taxation. The Dissenters had been trying to
get the Corporation and Test Acts repealed, without much success. But
nothing beyond occasional meetings and petitions to Parliament would
have occurred, had it not been for the explosion in France, then, as
since, the political powder-magazine of Europe. The Whig party had seen
with pleasure the beginning of the French reforms. Paine, who had
partaken of Mr. Burke's hospitality at Beaconsfield, wrote to him
freely from Paris, assuring him that everything was going on right;
that little inconveniences, the necessary consequences of pulling down
and building up, might arise; but that these were much less than ought
to be expected; and that a national convention in England would be the
best plan of regenerating the nation. Christie, a foolish Scotchman,
and Baron Clootz (soon to become Anacharsis) also wrote to Burke in the
same vein. Their communications affected his mind in a way they little
expected. Mr. Burke had lost all faith in any good result from the
blind, headlong rush of the Revolution, and was appalled at the
toleration, or rather, sympathy, shown in England, for the riots,
outrages, and murders of the Parisian rabble. He began writing the
"Reflections," as a warning to his countrymen. He was led to enlarge
the work by some remarks made by Fox and Sheridan in the House of
Commons; and more particularly by some passages in a sermon preached at
the Old Jewry by Dr. Price. Eleven years before, this scientific
divine, by a resolution of the American Congress, had been invited to
consider himself an American citizen, and to furnish the rebellious
Colonists with his assistance in regulating their finances. He had
disregarded this flattering summons. Full of zeal for "humanity," he
eagerly accepted the request of the Revolution Society to deliver their
anniversary sermon. In this discourse, the Doctor, the fervor of whose
sentiments had increased with age, maintained the right of the nation
"to cashier the king," choose a new ruler, and frame a government for
itself. The sermon and the congratulatory addresses it provoked were
published by the society and industriously circulated.

Mr. Burke's well-known "Reflections" appeared in October, 1790. The
book was hailed with delight by the conservatives of England. Thirteen
thousand copies were sold and disseminated. It was a sowing of the
dragon's teeth. Every copy brought out some radical, armed with speech
or pamphlet. Among a vulgar and forgotten crowd of declaimers, the
harebrained Lord Stanhope, Mary Wolstonecraft, who afterward wrote a
"Vindication of the Rights of Women," and the violent Catharine
Macaulay came forward to enter the ring against the great Mr. Burke.
Dr. Priestley, Unitarian divine, discoverer of oxygen gas,
correspondent of Dr. Franklin, afterward mobbed in Birmingham, and
self-exiled to Pennsylvania, fiercely backed Dr. Price, and maintained
that the French Revolution would result "in the enlargement of liberty,
the melioration of society, and the increase of virtue and happiness."
The "Vindiciae Gallicae" brought into notice Mr. Mackintosh, an
opponent whom Burke did not consider beneath him. But the champion was
Thomas Paine. At the White Bear, Piccadilly, Paine's favorite lounge,
where Romney, who painted a good portrait of him, Lord Edward
Fitzgerald, Colonel Oswald, Horne Tooke, and others of that set of
clever, impracticable reformers used to meet, there had been talk of
the blow Mr. Burke was preparing to strike, and Paine had promised his
friends to ward it off and to return it. He set himself to work in the
Red-Lion Tavern, at Islington, and in three months, Part the First of
the "Rights of Man" was ready for the press. Here a delay occurred. The
printer who had undertaken the job came to a stop before certain
treasonable passages, and declined proceeding farther. This caused the
loss of a month. At last, Jordan, of Fleet Street, brought it out on
the 13th of March, 1791. No publication in Great Britain, not Junius
nor Wilkes's No. 45, had produced such an effect. All England was
divided into those who, like Cruger of Bristol, said "Ditto to Mr.
Burke," and those who swore by Thomas Paine. "It is a false, wicked,
and seditious libel," shouted loyal gentlemen. "It abounds in
unanswerable truths, and principles of the purest morality and
benevolence; it has no object in view but the happiness of mankind,"
answered the reformers. "He is the scavenger of rebellion and
infidelity."--"Say, rather, 'the Apostle of Freedom, whose heart is a
perpetual bleeding fountain of philanthropy.'" The friends of the
government carried Paine in effigy, with a pair of stays under his
arms, and burned the figure in the streets. The friends of humanity
added a new verse to the national hymn, and sung,--

"God save great Thomas Paine,
His Rights of Man proclaim
From pole to pole!"

This pamphlet, which excited Englishmen of seventy years ago to such a
pitch of angry and scornful contention, may be read safely now. Time
has taken the sting from it. It is written in that popular style which
was Paine's extraordinary gift. He practised the maxim of
Aristotle,--although probably he had never heard of it,--"Think like
the wise, and speak like the common people." Fox said of the "Rights of
Man," "It seems as clear and as simple as the first rule in
arithmetic." Therein lay its strength. Paine knew exactly what he
wanted to say, and exactly how to say it. His positions may be
wrong,--no doubt frequently are wrong,--but so clearly, keenly, and
above all so boldly stated, and backed by such shrewd arguments and
such apposite illustrations, that it is difficult not to yield to his
common-sense view of the question he is discussing. His plain and
perspicuous style is often elegant. He may sometimes be coarse and
rude, but it is in the thought rather than in the expression. It is
true, that, in the heat of conflict, he is apt to lose his temper and
break out into the bitter violence of his French associates; but even
the scientific and reverend Priestley "called names,"--apostate,
renegade, scoundrel. This rough energy added to his popularity with the
middle and the lower classes, and made him doubly distasteful to his
opponents. Paine, who thought all revolutions alike, and all good,
could not understand why Burke, who had upheld the Americans, should
exert his whole strength against the French, unless he were "a traitor
to human nature." Burke did Paine equal injustice. He thought him
unworthy of any refutation but the pillory. In public, he never
mentioned his name. But his opinion, and, perhaps, a little soreness of
feeling, may be seen in this extract from a letter to Sir William

"He [Paine] is utterly incapable of comprehending his subject. He has
not even a moderate portion of learning of any kind. He has learned the
instrumental part of literature, without having ever made a previous
preparation of study for the use of it. Paine has nothing more than
what a man, whose audacity makes him careless of logical consequences
and his total want of honor makes indifferent to political
consequences, can very easily write."

The radicals thought otherwise. They drank Mr. Burke's health with
"thanks to him for the discussion he had provoked." And the student of
history, who may read Paine's opening sketch of the French Revolution,
written to refute Burke's narrative of the same events, will not deny
Paine's complete success. He will even meet with sentences that Burke
might have composed. For instance: Paine ridicules, as Quixotic, the
fine passage in the "Reflections on the Decay of Chivalry"; and adds,
"Mr. Burke's mind is above the homely sorrows of the vulgar. He can
only feel for a king or for a queen. The countless victims of tyranny
have no place in his sympathies. He is not affected by the reality of
distress touching upon his heart, but by the showy resemblance of it.
He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying bird."

The French constitution,--"a fabric of government which time could not
destroy and the latest posterity would admire." This was the boast of
the National Assembly, echoed by the English clubs. Even Mr. Fox, as
late as April, 1791, misled by his own magniloquence, spoke of it as
"the most stupendous and glorious edifice of liberty which had been
erected on the foundation of human integrity in any time or country."
Paine heartily concurred with him. Such a constitution as this, he
said, is needed in England. There is no hope of it from Parliament.
Indeed, Parliament, if it desired reforms, could not make them; it has
not the legal right. A national convention, fresh from the people, is
indispensable. Then, _reculant pour mieux sauter_, Paine goes back to
the origin of man,--a journey often undertaken by the political
philosophers of that day. He describes his natural rights,--defines
society as a compact,--declares that no generation has a right to bind
its successors, (a doctrine which Mr. Jefferson, and some foolish
people after him, thought a self-evident truth,)--hence, no family has
a right to take possession of a throne. An hereditary rule is as great
an absurdity as an hereditary professorship of mathematics,--a place
supposed by Dr. Franklin to exist in some German university. Paine grew
bolder as he advanced: "If monarchy is a useless thing, why is it kept
up anywhere? and if a necessary thing, how can it be dispensed with?"
This is a pretty good specimen of one of Paine's dialectical methods.
Here is another: The French constitution says, that the right of war
and of peace is in the nation. "Where else should it reside, but in
those who are to pay the expense? In England, the right is said to
reside in a metaphor shown at the Tower for sixpence or a shilling."
Dropping the crown, he turned upon the aristocracy and the Church, and
tore them. He begged Lafayette's pardon for addressing him as Marquis.
Titles are but nicknames. Nobility and no ability are synonymous. "In
all the vocabulary of Adam, you will find no such thing as a duke or a
count." The French had established universal liberty of conscience,
which gave rise to the following Painean statement: "With respect to
what are called denominations of religion,--if every one is left to
judge of his own religion, there is no such thing as a religion which
is wrong; but if they are to judge of each other's religion, there is
no such thing as a religion that is right;--and therefore all the world
is right or all the world is wrong." The next is better: "Religion is
man bringing to his Maker the fruits of his heart; and though these
fruits may differ from each other, like the fruits of the earth, the
grateful tribute of every one is accepted."

To encounter an antagonist like Burke, and to come off with credit,
might stimulate moderate vanity into public self-exposure; but in Paine
vanity was the besetting weakness. It was now swollen by success and
flattery into magnificent proportions. Franklin says, that, "when we
forbear to praise ourselves, we make a sacrifice to the pride or to the
envy of others." Paine did not hesitate to mortify both these failings
in his fellow-men. He praises himself with the simplicity of an Homeric
hero before a fight. He introduces himself, without a misgiving, almost
in the words of Pius Aeneas,--

"Sum Thomas Paine,
Fauna, super aethera notus."

"With all the inconveniences of early life against me, I am proud to
say, that, with a perseverance undismayed by difficulties, a
disinterestedness that compels respect, I have not only contributed to
raise a new empire in the world, founded on a new system of government,
but I have arrived at an eminence in political literature, the most
difficult of all lines to succeed and excel in, which aristocracy, with
all its aids, has not been able to reach or to rival." "I possess," he
wrote in the Second Part of the "Rights of Man," "more of what is
called consequence in the world than any one of Mr. Burke's catalogue
of aristocrats." Paine sincerely believed himself to be an adept who
had found in the rights of man the _materia prima_ of politics, by
which error and suffering might be transmuted into happiness and truth.
A second Columbus, but greater than the Genoese! Christopher had
discovered a new world, it is true, but Thomas had discovered the means
of making a new world out of the old. About this time, Dumont, the
Benthamite, travelled with him from Paris to London. Dumont was
irritated with "his incredible _amour-propre_ and his presumptuous
self-conceit." "He was mad with vanity." "The man was a caricature of
the vainest of Frenchmen. He believed that his book on the 'Rights of
Man' might supply the place of all the books that had ever been
written. If it was in his power, he would destroy all the libraries in
the world without hesitation, in order to root out the errors of which
they were the deposit, and so recommence by the 'Rights of Man' a new
chain of ideas and principles." Thus Paine and his wild friends had
reached the point of folly in the reformer's scale, and, like so many
of their class since, made the fatal mistake of supposing that the old
world knew nothing.

When Dumont fell in with Paine, he was returning from a flying visit to
Paris, invigorated by the bracing air of French freedom. He had seen
Pope Pius burned in effigy in the Palais Royal, and the poor King
brought back a prisoner from Varennes,--a cheerful spectacle to the
friend of humanity. He was on his way to be present at a dinner given
in London on the 14th of July, to commemorate the taking of the
Bastille; but the managers of the festivity thought it prudent that he
should not attend. He wrote, soon after, the address read by Horne
Tooke to the meeting of the 20th of August, at the Thatched House
tavern. So enlightened were the doctrines set forth in this paper, that
the innkeeper declined receiving Mr. Tooke and his friends on any
subsequent occasion. On the 4th of November, he assisted at the
customary celebration of the Fifth by the Revolution Society, and gave,
for his toast, "The Revolution of the World."

Meanwhile, Paine had reloaded his piece, and was now ready for another
shot at kings, lords, and commons. A thousand guineas were offered for
the copyright and refused. He declined to treat as a merchantable
commodity principles of such importance to mankind. His plan was, to
publish Part the Second on the day of the opening of Parliament; but
Chapman, the printer, became frightened, like his predecessor, at a
treasonable paragraph, and refused to go on.

A fortnight passed before work was resumed, and the essay did not
appear until the 16th of February, 1792. It combined, according to the
author, "principles and practice." Part the First was now fully
expounded, and enlarged by a scheme for diminishing the taxes and
improving the condition of the poor, by making weekly allowances to
young children, aged people, travelling workmen, and disbanded
soldiers. This project of Paine, stated with the mathematical accuracy
which was a characteristic of his mind, sprang from the same source as
the thousand Utopianisms which form the ludicrous side of the terrible
French Revolution.

Part the First was dedicated to Washington; Part the Second bore the
name of Lafayette. It is evident, from the second dedication, that
Paine had kept pace with the railway speed of the Revolution, and had
far outstripped the Marquis, who was not born to lead, or even to
understand the period he attempted to direct. The foremost men of 1792
had no time to wait;--"Mankind are always ripe enough to understand
their true interest," said Paine; adding words which seemed to quiet
Englishmen of fearful significance:--

"I do not believe that monarchy and aristocracy will continue seven
years longer in any of the enlightened countries of Europe."--"When
France shall be surrounded with revolutions, she will be in peace and
safety."--"From what we can learn, all Europe may form but one great
republic, and man be free of the whole."--"It is only a certain service
that any man can perform in the state, and the service of any
individual in the routine of office can never exceed the value of ten
thousand pounds a year."--"I presume that no man in his sober senses
will compare the character of any of the kings of Europe with that of
George Washington. Yet in France and in England the expenses of the
Civil List only for the support of one man are eight times greater than
the whole expense of the Federal government of America."--"The time is
not very distant when England will laugh at itself for sending to
Holland, Hanover, Zell, or Brunswick, for men, at the expense of a
million a year, who understand neither her laws, her language, or her
interest, and whose capacities would scarcely have fitted them for the
office of a parish constable. If government could be trusted to such
hands, it must be some easy and simple thing indeed, and materials fit
for all the purposes may be found in every town and village in

Here is treasonable matter enough, surely; and no wonder that Mr.
Chapman judged it prudent to stop his press.

Paine sent fifty copies to Washington; and wrote to him that sixteen
thousand had been printed in England, and four editions in
Ireland,--the second of ten thousand copies. Thirty thousand copies
were distributed by the clubs, at their own expense, among the poor.
Six months after the appearance of the Second Part, Paine sent the
Society for Constitutional Information a thousand pounds, which he had
received from the sale of the book. He then gave up the copyright to
the public. The circulation of this tract was prodigious. The original
edition had been printed in the same form as Burke's "Reflections," in
order that the antidote might be bound up with the bane. The high price
preventing many from purchasing, Paine got out a cheap edition which
was retailed at sixpence all over England and Scotland. It is said that
at least one hundred thousand copies were sold, besides the large
number distributed gratuitously. An edition was published in the United
States. It was translated into French by Dr. Lanthenas, a member of the
National Convention, and into German by C. F. Kraemer. Upon English
readers of a certain class it retained a hold for many years. In 1820,
Carlile, the bookseller, said, that in the preceding three years he had
sold five thousand copies of the "Rights of Man." Perhaps Cobbett's
resurrection of the bones of the prophet brought the book into fashion
again at that time. It may yet be read in England; but in this country,
where a citizen feels that his rights are anything he may choose to
claim, it is certainly a superfluous publication, and seldom met with.

In England, in 1792, Burke and Paine revived the royalist and
republican parties, which had lain dormant since 1688. A new body of
men, the manufacturing, entered the political field on the republican
side. The contest was embittered not only by the anger of antagonism,
but by the feeling of class. A radical of Paine's school was considered
by good society as a pestilent blackguard, unworthy of a gentleman's
notice,--much as an Abolitionist is looked down upon nowadays by the
American "Chivalry." But the strife was confined to meetings,
resolutions, and pamphlets. Few riots took place; none of much
importance. The gentlemen of England have never wanted the courage or
the strength to take care of themselves.

The political clubs were the principal centres of agitation. There were
two particularly active on the liberal side: the Revolution Society,
originally founded to commemorate the Revolution of 1688, and the
Society for Constitutional Information, established for the purpose of
bringing about a reform in the representation. But the revolutionary
changes in France had quickened their ideas, and had given them a taste
for stronger and more rapid measures. They now openly "resolved" that
England was "a prey to an arbitrary King, a senile Peerage, a corrupt
House of Commons, and a rapacious and intolerant Clergy." A third club,
the Corresponding Society, was younger and more violent, with branches
and affiliations all over England on the Jacobins' plan, and in active
correspondence with that famous institution. The middle and lower
classes in manufacturing towns, precursors of the Chartists of 1846,
belonged to this society. Their avowed objects were annual parliaments
and universal suffrage; but many members were in favor of a national
convention and a republic. The tone of all three societies became
French; they used a jargon borrowed from the other side of the Channel.
They sent deputations to the National Convention, expressing their wish
to adopt the republican form in England, and their hope of success. The
Corresponding Society even sent addresses of congratulation after the
massacres of September. Joel Barlow, the American, a man of the Paine
genus, without his talent or honesty of purpose, went as Commissioner
of the Society for Constitutional Information to the Convention,--
carrying with him an address which reads like a translation from the
French, and a thousand pair of shoes, with the promise of a thousand
pair a week for six weeks to come.

On the other side there were, of course, numerous Tory associations,
counter clubs, as violent as their republican antagonists, whose loyal
addresses to the throne were duly published in the Gazette.

The probability of a revolution now became a subject of general
discussion. Government, at last convinced that England, in the words of
Mr. Burke, "abounded in factious men, who would readily plunge the
country into blood and confusion for the sake of establishing the
fanciful Systems they were enamored of," determined to act with vigor.
A royal proclamation was issued against seditious writings. Paine
received notice that he would be prosecuted in the King's Bench. He
came immediately to London, and found that Jordan, his publisher, had
already been served with a summons, but, having no stomach for a
contest with the authorities, had compromised the affair with the
Solicitor of the Treasury by agreeing to appear and plead guilty. Such
pusillanimity was beneath the mark of Paine's enthusiasm. He wrote to
McDonald, the Attorney-General, that he, Paine, had no desire to avoid
any prosecution which the authorship of one of the most useful books
ever offered to mankind might bring upon him; and that he should do the
defence full justice, as well for the sake of the nation as for that of
his own reputation. He wound up a long letter by the very ungenerous
insinuation, that Mr. Burke, not being able to answer the "Rights of
Man," had advised legal proceedings.

The societies, checked for a moment by the blow struck at them, soon
renewed their exertions. The sale of the "Rights of Man" became more
extended than ever. Paine said that the proclamation served hint for an
advertisement. The Manchester and Sheffield branches of the
Constitutional Society voted unanimously addresses of thanks to him for
his essay, "a work of the highest importance to every nation under
heaven." The newspapers were full of speeches, votes, resolutions, on
the same subject. Every mail was laden with congratulations to the
Jacobins on the coming time,--

"When France shall reign, and laws be all

To the Radicals, the Genius of Liberty seemed to be hovering over
England; and Thomas Paine was the harbinger to prepare his way.

Differences of opinion, when frequently expressed in hard words,
commonly lead to hard blows; and the conservative classes of England
were not men to hold their hands when they thought the proper time had
come to strike. But the party which looked up to Paine as its apostle
was not as numerous as it appeared to be from the noise it made. There
is never a sufficiently large number of reckless zealots in England to
do much mischief,--one of the greatest proofs of the inherent good
sense of that people. Dr. Gall's saying, "_Tout ce qui est ultra est
bete_," is worth his whole phrenological system. Measures and doctrines
had now been pushed so far that a numerous and influential body of
liberals called a halt,--the prelude of a union with the government

Luckily for Paine, his French admirers stepped in at this critical
moment to save him. Mons. Audibert, a municipal officer from Calais,
came to announce to him that he was elected to the National Convention
for that department. He immediately proceeded to Dover with his French
friend. In Dover, the collector of the customs searched their pockets
as well as their portmanteaus, in spite of many angry protestations.
Finally their papers were returned to them, and they were allowed to
embark. Paine was just in time; an order to detain him arrived about
twenty minutes after his embarkation.

The trial came on before Lord Kenyon. Erskine appeared for the absent
defendant. The Attorney-General used, as his brief, a foolish letter he
had received from Paine at Calais, read it to the jury, made a few
remarks, and rested his case. The jury found Paine guilty without
leaving their seats. Sentence of outlawry was passed upon him. Safe in
France, he treated the matter as a capital joke. Some years later he
found that it had a disagreeable meaning in it.

The prophet had been translated to another sphere of revolutionary
unrest. His influence gradually died away. He dwindled into a mere
name. "But the fact remains," to use his own words, "and will hereafter
be placed in the history of extraordinary things, that a pamphlet
should be produced by an individual, unconnected with any sect or
party, and almost a stranger in the land, that should completely
frighten a whole government, and that in the midst of its triumphant

Paine might have published his "principles" his life long without
troubling many subjects of King George, had it not been for their
combination with "practice" in France,--whither let us now follow him.

When he landed at Calais, the guard turned out and presented arms; a
grand salute was fired; the officer in command embraced him and
presented him with the national cockade; a good-looking _citoyenne_
asked leave to pin it on his hat, expressing the hope of her
compatriots that he would continue his exertions in favor of liberty.
Enthusiastic acclamations followed,--a grand chorus of _Vive Thomas
Paine!_ The crowd escorted him to Dessein's hotel,[1] in the Rue de
l'Egalite, formerly Rue du Roi, and shouted under his windows. At the
proper time he was conducted to the Town Hall. The municipality were
assembled to bestow the _accolade fraternelle_ upon their
representative. M. le Maire made a speech, which Audibert, who still
had Paine in charge, translated. Paine laid his hand on his heart,
bowed, and assured the municipality that his life should be devoted to
their service. In the evening, the club held a meeting in the Salle des
Minimes. The hall was jammed. Paine was seated beside the President,
under a bust of Mirabeau, surmounted by the flags of France, England,
and the United States. More addresses, compliments, protestations, and
frantic cries of _Vive Thomas Paine!_ The _seance_ was adjourned to the
church, to give those who could not obtain admission into the Club Hall
an opportunity to look at their famous representative. The next evening
Paine went to the theatre. The state-box had been prepared for him. The
house rose and _vivaed_ as he entered.

[Footnote 1: See Sterne's _Sentimental Journey_.]

When Calais had shouted itself hoarse, Paine travelled towards Paris.
The towns he traversed on the road thither received him with similar
honors. From the capital he addressed a letter of thanks to his
fellow-citizens. Although he sat for Calais in the Convention, he had
been chosen by three other departments. Priestley was a candidate for
Paris, but was beaten by Marat, a doctor of another description. He
was, however, duly elected in the department L'Orne, but never took his
seat. Paine and Baron Clootz were the only foreigners in the
Convention. Another stranger, of political celebrity out of doors,
styled himself American as well as Paine,--_Fournier l'Americain_, a
mulatto from the West Indies, whose complexion was not considered
"incompatible with freedom" in France,--a violent and blood-thirsty
fellow, who shot at Lafayette on the _dix-sept Juillet_, narrowly
missing him,--led an attacking party against the Tuileries on the _dix
Aout_, and escaped the guillotine to be transported by Bonaparte.

In Paris, Paine was already a personage well known to all the leading
men,--a great republican luminary, "foreign benefactor of the species,"
who had commenced the revolution in America, was making one in England,
and was willing to help make one in France. His English works,
translated by Lanthenas, a friend of Robespierre and co-editor with
Brissot of the "Patriote Francais," had earned for him the dignity of
_citoyen Francais_,--an honor which he shared with Mackintosh, Dr.
Price, the Priestleys, father and son, and David Williams. He had
furnished Lafayette with a good deal of his revolutionary rhetoric, had
contributed to the Monthly Review of the Girondists and the "Chronique
de Paris," and had written a series of articles in defence of
representative government, which Condorcet had translated for him.
Paine was a man of one idea in politics; a federal republic, on the
American plan, was the only system of government he believed in, and
the only one he wished to see established in France. Lafayette belonged
to this school. So did Condorcet, Petion, Buzot, and others of less
note. Under Paine's direction they formed a republican club, which met
at Condorcet's house. This federal theory cost them dear. In 1793, it
was treason against the _une et indivisible_, and was punished

After the flight to Varennes, Paine openly declared that the King was
"a political superfluity." This was true enough. The people had lost
all respect for the man and for the office. None so base as to call him
King. He was only the _pouvoir executif_, or more commonly still,
_Monsieur Veto_. Achille Duchatelet, a young officer who had served in
America, called upon Dumont to get him to translate a proclamation
drawn up by Paine, urging the people to seize the opportunity and
establish a republic. It was intended to be a "Common Sense" for
France. Dumont refusing to have anything to do with it, some other
translator was found. It appeared on the walls of the capital with
Duchatelet's name affixed. The placard was torn down by order of the
Assembly and attracted little attention. The French were not quite
ready for the republic, although gradually approaching it. They seemed
to take a pleasure in playing awhile with royalty before exterminating

The Abbe Sieyes was a warm monarchist. He wrote in the "Moniteur," that
he could prove, "on every hypothesis," that men were more free in a
monarchy than in a republic. Paine gave notice in Brissot's paper, that
he would demolish the Abbe utterly in fifty pages, and show the world
that a constitutional monarchy was a nullity,--concluding with the
usual flourish about "weeping for the miseries of humanity," "hell of
despotism," etc., etc., the fashionable doxology of patriotic authors
in that day. Sieyes announced his readiness to meet the great Paine in
conflict. This passage of pens was interrupted by the publication of
Part Second of the "Rights of Man." Before Paine returned to Paris, the
mob had settled the question for the time, so far as the French nation
were concerned.

Paine had also taken a leading part in some of the politico-theatrical
entertainments then so frequent in the streets of Paris. At the
festival of the Federation, in July, 1790, when Clootz led a
"deputation" of the _genre humain_, consisting of an English editor and
some colored persons in fancy dresses, Paine and Paul Jones headed the
American branch of humanity and carried the stars and stripes. Not long
after, Fame appears again marshalling a deputation of English and
Americans, who waited upon the Jacobin Club to fraternize. Suitable
preparations had been made by the club for this solemn occasion. The
three national flags, united, were placed in the hall over the busts of
Dr. Franklin and Dr. Price. Robespierre himself received the generous
strangers; but most of the talking seems to have been done by a fervid
_citoyenne_, who took _la parole_ and kept it. "Let a cry of joy rush
through all Europe and fly to America," said she. "But hark!
Philadelphia and all its countries repeat, like us, _Vive la Liberte!_"
To see a man of Paine's clear sense and simple tastes pleased by such
flummery as this shows us how difficult it is not to be affected by the
spirit of the generation we live with. How could he have supposed that
the new heaven upon earth of his dreams would ever be constructed out
of such pinchbeck materials?

It was now the year 1. of the Republic. The _dix Aout_ was over, the
King a prisoner in the Temple. Lafayette, in his attempt to imitate his
"master," Washington, had succeeded no better than the magician's
apprentice, who knew how to raise the demon, but not how to manage him
when he appeared. He had gone down before the revolution, and was now
_le traitre Lafayette_, a refugee in Austria. Dumouriez commanded on
the north-eastern frontier in his place. France was still shuddering at
the recollection of the prison-massacres of the _Septembriseurs_, and
society, to use the phrase of a modern French revolutionist, was _en
proces de liquidation_.

Paine got on very well, at first. The Convention was impressed with the
necessity of looking up first principles, and Paine was emphatically
the man of principles. A universal republic was the hope of the
majority, with a convention sitting at the centre of the civilized
world, watching untiringly over the rights of man and the peace of the
human race. Meantime, they elected a committee to make a new
constitution for France. Paine was, of course, selected. His colleagues
were Sieyes, Condorcet, Gensonne, Vergniaud, Petion, Brissot, Barere,
and Danton. Of these nine, Paine and Sieyes alone survived the Reign of
Terror. When, in due time, this constitution was ready to be submitted
to the Convention, no one could be found to listen to the reading of
the report. The revolution had outstripped the committee. Their labors
proved as useless as the Treatise on Education composed by Mr. Shandy
for the use of his son Tristram;--when it was finished, the child had
outgrown every chapter.

Thenceforward, we catch only occasional glimpses of Paine. In the days
of his glory, he lived in the fashionable Rue de Richelieu, holding
levees twice a week, to receive a public eager to gaze upon so great a
man. His name appears at the _fete civique_ held by English and Irish
republicans at White's Hotel. There he sat beside Santerre, the famous
brewer, and proposed, as a sentiment, "The approaching National
Convention of Great Britain and Ireland." At this dinner, Lord Edward
Fitzgerald, then an officer in the British service, gave, "May the 'Ca
ira,' the 'Carmagnole,' and the 'Marseillaise' be the music of every
army, and soldier and citizen join in the chorus,"--a toast which cost
him his commission, perhaps his life. We read, too, that Paine was
struck in a _cafe_ by some loyal, hot-headed English captain, who took
that means of showing his dislike for the author of the "Rights of
Man." The police sternly seized the foolish son of Albion. A blow
inflicted upon the sacred person of a member of the Convention was
clearly sacrilege, punishable, perhaps, with death. But Paine
interfered, procured passports, and sent the penitent soldier safely
out of the country.

Speaking no French, for he never succeeded in learning the language,
Paine's part in the public sittings of the Convention must have been
generally limited to eloquent silence or expressive dumbshow. But when
the trial of the King came on, he took a bold and dangerous share in
the proceedings, which destroyed what little popularity the ruin of his
federal schemes had left him, and came near costing him his head. He
was already so great a laggard behind the revolutionary march, that he
did not suspect the determination of the Mountain to put the King to
death. Louis was guilty, no doubt, Paine thought,--but not of any great
crime. Banishment for life, or until the new government be
consolidated,--say to the United States, where he will have the
inestimable privilege of seeing the working of free institutions;--once
thoroughly convinced of his royal errors, morally, as well as
physically uncrowned, he might safely be allowed to return to France as
plain Citizen Capet: that should be his sentence. But the extreme left
of the Convention and the constituent rabble of the galleries wanted to
break with the past, and to throw a king's head into the arena as wager
of battle to the despots of Europe. The discovery of the iron safe in
the palace offered, it was thought, sufficient show of evidence for the
prosecution; if not, they were ready to dispense with any. The case was
prejudged; the trial, a cruel and an empty form. There were two
righteous men in that political Gomorrah,--Tronchet and the venerable
Malesherbes. They offered their services to defend the unfortunate
victim. Who can read Malesherbes's noble letter to the President of the
Convention, without thinking the better of French nature forever after?

A fierce preliminary discussion arose the Convention on the
constitutional question of the King's inviolability. Paine had no
patience with the privileges of kingship and voted against
inviolability. He requested that a speech he had prepared on the
subject might be read to the House at once, as he wished to send off a
copy to London for the English papers. This wretched composition was
manifestly written for England. Paine had George III. in his mind,
rather than Louis XVI. Here is a specimen of the style of
it,--interesting, as showing the temper of the time, as well as of
Member Thomas Paine:--"Louis, as an individual, is an object beneath
the notice of the Republic. But he ought to be tried, because a
conspiracy has been formed against the liberty of all nations by the
crowned ruffians of Europe. Louis XVI. is believed to be the partner of
that horde, and is the only man of them you have in your power. It is
indispensable to discover who the gang is composed of, and this may be
done by his trial. It may also bring to light the detestable conduct of
Mr. Guelph, Elector of Hanover, and be doing justice to England to make
them aware of it. It is the interest of France to be surrounded by
republics, and that revolutions be universal. If Louis XVI. can serve
to prove, by the flagitiousness of government in general, the necessity
of revolutions, France ought not to let slip so precious an
opportunity. Seeing no longer in Louis XVI. but a weakminded and
narrow-spirited individual, ill-bred, like all his colleagues, given,
as it is said, to frequent excesses of drunkenness, and whom the
National Assembly raised again imprudently to a throne which was not
made for him,--if we show him hereafter some pity, it shall not be the
result of the burlesque idea of a pretended inviolability."

A secretary read this speech from the tribune,--Paine standing near
him, silent, furnishing perhaps an occasional gesture to mark the
emphasis. The Convention applauded warmly, and ordered it to be printed
and circulated in the departments.

When the King was found guilty, and it came to the final vote, whether
he should be imprisoned, banished, or beheaded, the Girondins, who had
spoken warmly against the death-penalty, voted for it, overawed by the
stormy abuse of the galleries. Paine, coarse and insolent, but not
cowardly or cruel, did not hesitate to vote for banishment. He
requested the member from the Pas de Calais to read from the tribune
his appeal in favor of the King. Drunau attempted to do it, but was
hooted down. Paine persisted,--presented his speech again the next day.
Marat objected to its reception, because Paine was a Quaker, and
opposed to capital punishment on principle; but the Convention at last
consented to the reading. After alluding to the all-important
assistance furnished by Louis XVI. to the insurgent American Colonies,
Paine, as a citizen of both countries, proposed sending him to the
United States. "To kill Louis," wrote Paine, "is not only inhuman, but
a folly. It will increase the number of your enemies. France has but
one ally,--the United States of America,--and the execution of the King
would spread an universal affliction in that country. If I could speak
your language like a Frenchman, I would descend a suppliant to your
bar, and in the name of all my brothers in America present to you a
petition and prayer to suspend the execution of Louis." The Mountain
and the galleries roared with rage. Thuriot exclaimed,--"That is not
the true language of Thomas Paine."

"I denounce the translator," shrieked venomous Marat; "these are not
the opinions of Thomas Paine; it is a wicked and unfaithful

Coulon affirmed, solemnly, that he had seen the original in Paine's
hands, and that it was exact. The reader was finally allowed to resume.
"You mean to send an ambassador to the United States. Let him announce
to the Americans that the National Convention of France, from pure
friendship to America, has consented to respite the sentence of Louis.
Ah, Citizens, do not give the despot of England the pleasure of seeing
sent to the scaffold the man who helped my beloved brethren of America
to free themselves from his chains!"

Soon after the execution of the King, Paris fell into the hands of the
lowest classes. Their leaders ruled with terrible energy. Chabot's
_dictum,--"Il n'y a pas de crimes en revolution_," and Stablekeeper
Drouet's exclamation,--"_Soyons brigands pour le bonheur du peuple_,"
contain the political principles which guided them. Marat thundered
away in his paper against Brissotins, Girondins, federalism, and
moderantism. The minority members, thus unpleasantly noticed, went
armed; many of them dared not sleep at home. Soon came the arrest of
the _suspects_. The 31st of May, _cette insurrection toute morale_, as
Robespierre called it, followed next. The Convention was stormed by the
mob and purged of Brissotins and Girondins. The _Comite de Salut
Public_ decreed forced loans and the _levee en masse_. Foreigners were
expelled from the Convention and imprisoned throughout France. Mayor
Bailly, Mme. Roland, Manuel, and their friends, passed under the axe.
The same fate befell the Girondins, a party of phrase-makers who have
enjoyed a posthumous sentimental reputation, but who, when living, had
not the energy and active courage to back their fine speeches. The
_reductio ad horribile_ of all the fine arguments in favor of popular
infallibility and virtue had come; neither was the _reductio ad
absurdum_ wanting. The old names of the days and months and years were
changed. The statues of the Virgin were torn from the little niches in
street-walls, and the busts of Marat and Lepelletier set up in their
stead. The would-be God, _soi-disant Dieu_, was banished from France.
Clootz and Chaumette, who called themselves Anacharsis and Anaxagoras,
celebrated the worship of the Goddess of Reason. Bonfires of feudality;
Goddesses of Liberty in plaster; trees of liberty planted in every
square; altars _de la patrie_; huge rag-dolls representing Anarchy and
Discord; Cleobis and Biton dragging their revered parents through the
streets; _bonnets rouges, banderolles, ca iras, carmagnoles,
fraternisations, accolades_; the properties, as well as the text of the
plays, borrowed from Ancient Greece or Rome. What a bewildering
retrospect! A period well summed up by Emerson:--"To-day, pasteboard
and filigree; to-morrow, madness and murder." _Tigre-singe_, Voltaire's
epigrammatic definition, describes his countrymen of the Reign of
Terror in two words.

Neglected by all parties, and disgusted with all, Paine moved to a
remote quarter of Paris, and took rooms in a house which had once
belonged to Mme. de Pompadour. Brissot, Thomas Christie, Mary
Wolstonecraft, and Joel Barlow were his principal associates. Two
Englishmen, "friends of humanity," and an ex-officer of the
_garde-du-corps_ lodged in the same building. The neighborhood was not
without its considerable persons. Sanson, most celebrated of headsmen,
had his domicile ii the same section. He called upon Paine,
complimented him in good English upon his "Rights of Man," which he had
read, and offered his services in a polite manner.

When the Reign of Terror was fully established, the little party seldom
left their walls, and amused themselves as best they could with
conversation and games. The news of the confusion and alarm of Paris
reached them in their retreat, as if they were miles away in some quiet
country residence. Every evening the landlord went into the city and
brought back with him the horrible story of the day. "As to myself,"
Paine wrote to Lady Smith, "I used to find some relief by walking in
the garden and cursing with hearty good-will the authors of that
terrible system that had turned the character of the revolution I had
been proud to defend."

After some weeks, the two Englishmen contrived to escape to
Switzerland, leaving their enthusiasm for humanity behind them. Two
days later, a file of armed men came to arrest them. Before the month
was out, the landlord was carried off in the night. Last of all came
the turn of Paine. He was arrested in December, by order of
Robespierre, "for the interest of America, as well as of France, as a
dangerous enemy of liberty and equality." On his way to the Luxembourg,
he stopped at Barlow's lodgings and left with him the First Part of the
"Age of Reason," finished the day before. The Americans in Paris
applied to the Convention for Paine's release, offering themselves as
security for his good conduct during his stay in France. They rounded
off their petition with a phrase of the prisoner's,--"Ah, Citizens! do
not give the leagued despots of Europe the pleasure of seeing Thomas
Paine in irons." This document was presented by a Major Jackson, a
"volunteer character," who had come to Europe with a letter of
introduction to Gouverneur Morris, then minister, from Mr. Jefferson.
Instead of delivering his letter to Morris, Jackson lodged it with the
_Comite de Salut Public_ as a credential, and represented his country
on the strength of it. The Convention, careless of the opinion of the
"leagued despots," as well as of Major Jackson, replied, that Paine was
an Englishman, and the demand for his release unauthorized by the
United States. Paine wrote to Morris to request him to demand his
discharge of the citizen who administered foreign affairs. Morris did
so; but this official denied that Paine was an American. Morris
inclosed this answer to Paine, who returned a shrewd argument in his
own behalf, and begged Morris to lay the proofs of his citizenship
before the minister. But Morris disliked Paine, and his own position in
France was far from satisfactory. It is probable that he was not very
zealous in the matter, and shortly after Paine's letter all
communication with prisoners was forbidden.

The news of the outer world reached these unfortunates, penned up like
sheep waiting for the butcher, only when the doors of the dungeon
opened to admit a new _fournee_, or batch of victims, as the French
pleasantly called them. They knew then that the revolution had made
another stride forward, and had trodden these down as it moved on.
Paine saw them all--Ronsin, Hebert, Momoro, Chaumette, Clootz, Gobel,
the crazy and the vile, mingled together, the very men he had cursed in
his garden at St. Denis--pass before him like the shadows of a
magic-lantern, entering at one side and gliding out at the other,--to
death. A few days later came Danton, Camille, Desmoulins, and the few
who remained of the moderate party. Paine was standing near the wicket
when they were brought in. Danton embraced him. "What you have done for
the happiness and liberty of your country I have in vain tried to do
for mine. I have been less fortunate, but not more culpable. I am sent
to the scaffold." Turning to his friends.--"_Eh, bien! mes amis, allons
y gaiement._" Happy Frenchmen! What a consolation it was to them to be
thus always able to take an attitude and enact a character! Their
fondness for dramatic display must have served them as a moral
anaesthetic in those scenes of murder, and have deadened their
sensibility to the horrors of their actual condition.

In July, the carnage had reached its height. No man could count upon
life for twenty-four hours. The tall, the wise, the reverend heads had
been taken off, and now the humbler ones were insecure upon their
shoulders. Fouquier-Tinville had erected a guillotine in his
court-room, to save time and transportation. Newsboys sold about the
streets printed lists of those who were to suffer that day. "_Voici
ceux qui ont gagne a la loterie de la Sainte Guillotine!_" they cried,
with that reckless, mocking, blood-thirsty spirit which is found only
in Frenchmen, or, perhaps, in their fellow-Celts. It seemed to Paine
that Robespierre and the Committee were afraid to leave a man alive. He
expected daily his own summons; but he was overlooked. There was
nothing to be gained by killing him, except the mere pleasure of the

He ascribed his escape to a severe attack of fever, which kept him out
of sight for a time, and to a clerical error on the part of the
distributing jailer. He wrote this account of it, after his return to
America:--"The room in which I was lodged was on the ground-floor, and
one of a long range of rooms under a gallery, and the door of it opened
outward and flat against the wall, so that, when it was opened, the
inside of the door appeared outward, and the contrary when it was shut
I had three fellow-prisoners with me,--Joseph Van Huile of Bruges,
Michel and Robin Bastini of Louvain. When persons by scores were to be
taken out of prison for the guillotine, it was always done in the
night, and those who performed that office had a private mark by which
they knew what rooms to go to and what number to take. We, as I have
said, were four, and the door of our room was marked, unobserved by us,
with that number in chalk; but it happened, if happening is a proper
word, that the mark was put on when the door was open and flat against
the wall, and thereby came on the inside when we shut it at night, and
the destroying angel passed by it." Paine thought his escape
providential; the Orthodox took a different view of it.

After the fall of Robespierre, in Thermidor, seventy-three members of
the Convention, who had survived the Reign of Terror, resumed their
seats. But Paine was not released. Monroe had superseded Morris in
August, but had no instructions from his government. Indeed, as Paine
had accepted citizenship in France, and had publicly acted as a French
citizen, it was considered, even by his friends, that he had no claim
to the protection of the United States. Paine, as was natural, thought
differently. He wrote to Monroe, explaining that French citizenship was
a mere compliment paid to his reputation; and in any view of the case,
it had been taken away from him by a decree of the Convention. His seat
in that body did not affect his American _status_, because a convention
to make a constitution is not a government, but extrinsic and
antecedent to a government. The government once established, he would
never have accepted a situation under it. Monroe assured him that he
considered him an American citizen, and that "to the welfare of Thomas
Paine Americans are not nor can they be indifferent,"--with which fine
phrase Paine was obliged to be satisfied until November. On the fourth
of that month he was released. The authorities of Thermidor disliked
the Federalist government, and Paine was probably kept in prison some
additional months on account of Monroe's application for his discharge.

He left the Luxembourg, after eleven months of incarceration, with
unshaken confidence in his own greatness and in the truth of his
principles,--but in appearance and in character another man, with only
the tatters of his former self hanging about him. A certain elegance of
manner and of dress, which had distinguished him, was gone. He drank
deep, and was noisy. His fondness for talking of himself had grown to
such excess as to destroy the conversational talents which all his
contemporaries who speak of him describe as remarkable. "I will venture
to say that the best thing will be said by Mr. Paine": that was Horne
Tooke's prophecy, talking of some proposed dinner-party.

Demoralized by poverty, with ruined health, his mind had become
distorted by physical suffering and by brooding over the ingratitude
and cruel neglect of the American people, who owed, as he really
believed, their very existence as a nation to him. "Is this what I
ought to have expected from America," he wrote to General Washington,
"after the part I have acted towards her?" "I do not hesitate to say
that you have not served America with more fidelity or greater zeal or
more disinterestedness than myself, and perhaps not with better
effect." Henceforth he was a man of two ideas: he engrafted his
resentment upon his "Rights of Man," and thought himself carrying out
his theory while indulging in his wrath. He poured the full measure of
his indignation upon the party who directed affairs in the United
States, and upon the President. In two long letters, composed after his
release, under Monroe's roof, he accused Washington of conniving at his
imprisonment, to keep him, Paine, "the marplot of all designs against
the people," out of the way. "Mr. Washington and his new-fangled party
were rushing as fast as they dared venture into all the vices and
corruptions of the British government; and it was no more consistent
with the policy of Mr. Washington and those who immediately surrounded
him than it was with that of Robespierre or of Pitt that I should
survive." As he grew more angry, he became more abusive. He ridiculed
Washington's "cold, unmilitary conduct" during the War of Independence,
and accused his administration, since the new constitution, of
"vanity," "ingratitude," "corruption," "bare-faced treachery," and "the
tricks of a sharper." He closed this wretched outbreak of peevishness
and wounded self-conceit with the following passage:--

"And as to you, Sir, treacherous in private friendship (for so you have
been to me, and that in the day of danger) and a hypocrite in public
life, the world will be puzzled to decide whether you are an apostate
or an impostor,--whether you have abandoned good principles, or whether
you ever had any."

The remains of the old Convention invited Paine to resume his place in
their assemblage. A committee of eleven, unaided by his experience, had
been working at a new constitution, the political spring-fashion in
Paris for that year. It was the plan since known as the _Directoire_,
reported complete about the time Paine reappeared in the Convention.
Disapproving of some of the details of this instrument, Paine furbished
up his old weapons, and published "A Dissertation on the First
Principles of Government." This tract he distributed among
members,--the _libretto_ of the speech he intended to make.
Accordingly, on the 5th of July, on motion of his old ally, Lanthenas,
who had managed to crawl safely through the troubles, permission was
granted to Thomas Paine to deliver his sentiments on the "Declaration
of Rights and the Constitution." He ascended the tribune for the last
time, and the secretary read the translation. He began, of course, with
rights; but qualified them by adding, that, when we consider rights, we
ought always to couple with them the idea of duties,--a happy union,
which did not strike him before the Reign of Terror, and which is
almost always overlooked. He then brought forward his universal
political specific and panacea,--representative government and a
written constitution. "Had a constitution been established two years
ago," he said, "(as ought to have been done,) the violences that have
since desolated France and injured the character of the Revolution
would, in my opinion, have been prevented." There is nothing else in
his speech of interest to us, except, that, in attacking a property
qualification, which was wisely inserted in the new system, he made use
of the _reductio-ad-absurdum_ illustration so often attributed to Dr.
Franklin:--"When a broodmare shall fortunately produce a foal or a mule
that by being worth the sum in question shall convey to its owner the
right of voting, or by its death take it from him, in whom does the
origin of such a right exist? Is it in the man or in the mule?"

The new government went into operation in September, 1795. Bonaparte's
lesson to the insurgents of Vendemiaire, in front of the Church of St.
Roche, followed immediately after. On the 26th of October, the
Convention was dissolved, and Paine ceased to be a legislator for

He was no longer an object of consideration to Frenchmen, whose faith
in principles and in constitutions was nearly worn out. Poor and
infirm, indebted to Monroe's hospitality for a lodging, he remained
eighteen months under the roof of the Embassy, looking for an
opportunity to get back to America. Monroe wished to send him as bearer
of dispatches before the dissolution of the Convention. But a member of
that body could not leave France without a passport from it. To apply
for it would have announced his departure, and have given the English
government a chance to settle the old account they had against him.
After Monroe had returned to the United States, Paine engaged his
passage, and went to Havre to embark: but the appearance of a British
frigate off the port changed his plans. The sentence of outlawry, a
good joke four years before, had now become an unpleasant reality. So
he travelled back to Paris, full of hate against England, and relieved
his mind by writing a pamphlet on the "Decline and Fall of the English
System of Finance," a performance characteristic of the man,--sound,
clear sense mixed with ignorance and arrogance. He attempted to show
arithmetically that the English funding system could not continue to
the end of Mr. Pitt's life, supposing him to live to the usual age of
man. The calculation is ingenious, but has not proved to be as accurate
as some of Newton's. On the other hand, his remarks on paper money are
excellent, and his sneer at the Sinking Fund, then considered a great
invention in finance, well placed:--"As to Mr. Pitt's project for
paying off the national debt by applying a million a year for that
purpose while he continues adding more than twenty millions a year to
it, it is like setting a man with a wooden leg to run after a
hare;--the longer he runs, the farther he is off." The conclusion is
one of his peculiar flourishes of his own trumpet:--"I have now exposed
the English system of finance to the eyes of all nations,--for this
work will be published in all languages. 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

From Monroe's departure until the year 1802, little is known of Paine.
He is said to have lived in humble lodgings with one Bonneville, a
printer, editor of the "Bouche de Fer" in the good early days of the
Revolution. He must have kept up some acquaintance with respectable
society; for we find his name on the lists of the _Cercle
Constitutionnel_, a club to which belonged Talleyrand, Benjamin
Constant, and conservatives of that class who were opposed to both the
_bonnet-rouge_ and the _fleur-de-lis_. Occasionally he appears above
the surface with a pamphlet. Politics were his passion, and to write a
necessity of his nature. If public matters interested him, an essay of
some kind made its way into print. When Baboeuf's agrarian conspiracy
was crushed, Paine gave the world his views on "Agrarian Justice."
Every man has a natural right to a share in the land; but it is
impossible that every man should exercise this right. To compensate him
for this loss, be should receive at the age of twenty-one fifteen
pounds sterling; and if he survive his fiftieth year, ten pounds _per
annum_ during the rest of his life. The funds for these payments to be
furnished by a tax on inheritances.

Camille Jourdain made a report to the Five Hundred on priests and
public worship, in which he recommended, _inter alia_, that the use of
church-bells and the erection of crosses be again permitted by law.
This reactionary measure excited Paine's liberal bigotry. He published
a letter to Jourdain, telling him that priests were useless and bells
public nuisances. Another letter may be seen, offering his subscription
of one hundred francs to a fund for the invasion of England,--a
favorite project of the Directory, and the dearest wish of Paine's
heart. He added to his mite an offer of any personal service he could
render to the invading army. When Carnot, Barthelemy, and Pichegru were
expelled from power by the _coup d'etat_ of the 18th Fructidor,--a
military demonstration against the Republic,--Paine wrote an address to
the people of France and to the French armies, heartily approving of
the summary method that had been adopted with these reactionists, who
must have their bells and their priests. He did not then perceive the
real significance of the movement.

On one remarkable occasion, Paine made a full-length appearance before
the French public,--not in his character of a political philosopher,
but as a moralist. Robespierre, a few days before his fall, declared
atheism to be aristocratic, reinstated _l'Etre supreme_, and gave a
festival in his honor. There religious matters had rested. Deism, pure
and simple, was the faith of true republicans, and the practice of
morality their works. But deism is a dreary religion to the mass of
mankind, and the practice of morality can never take the place of
adoration. The heart must be satisfied, as well as the conscience.
Larevilliere, a Director, of irreproachable character, felt this
deficiency of their system, and saw how strong a hold the Catholic
priesthood had upon the common people. The idea occurred to him of
rivalling the churches by establishing regular meetings of moral men
and women, to sing hymns of praise to the Almighty, "one and
indivisible," and to listen to discourses and exhortations on moral
subjects. Hauey, a brother of the eminent crystallogist, assembled the
first society of Theophilanthropists, (lovers of God and man,) as they
called themselves. They held their meetings on the day corresponding to
Sunday. They had their manual of worship and their book of canticles.
Their dogmas were the existence of one God and the immortality of the
soul. And they wisely said nothing about matters which they did not
believe. Paine, who in his "Age of Reason" had attempted to prepare a
theology _ad usum reipublicae,_ felt moved by the spirit of morality,
and delivered a sermon to one of these Theophilanthropist
congregations. His theme was the existence of God and the propriety of
combining the study of natural science with theology. He chose, of
course, the _a-posteriori_ argument, and was brief, perhaps eloquent.
Some passages of his discourse might pass unchallenged in the sermon of
an Orthodox divine. He kept this one ready in his memory of brass, to
confound all who accused him of irreligion:--"Do we want to contemplate
His power? We see it in the immensity of the creation. Do we want to
contemplate His wisdom? We see it in the unchangeable order by which
the incomprehensible whole is governed. Do we want to contemplate His
mercy? We see it in His not withholding His abundance even from the
unthankful. In fine, do we want to know what God is? Search not written
books, but the Scriptures called the Creation."

If it were possible to establish a new _cultus,_ based upon mere
abstract principles, Frenchmen, we should say, would be about the last
people who could do it. This new worship, like any other play, drew
well as long as it was new, and no longer. The moral men and women soon
grew tired of it, and relapsed into the old faith and the old forms.

The end of all this child's play at government and at religion came at
last. Bonaparte, checked at Acre by Sir Sydney Smith, left the East,
landed in France in October, 1799, sent a file of grenadiers to turn
Ancients and Five Hundred out of their halls, and seated himself in the
chair of state.

After this conclusive _coup d'etat,_ Paine sunk out of sight. The First
Consul might have examined with interest the iron bridge, but could
never have borne with the soiled person and the threadbare principles
of the philosopher of two hemispheres. Bonaparte loved neatness and
elegance, and disliked _ideologues_ and _bavards,_ as he styled all
gentlemen of Paine's turn of mind.

In 1802, after the peace with England, Paine set sail from Havre to end
his days in the United States. Here we leave him. We have neither space
nor inclination to sum up his virtues and his vices in these columns,
and to give him a character according to the balance struck. We have
sketched a few outlines of his history as we have found it scattered
about in newspapers and pamphlets. Our readers may make up their own
minds whether this supposed ally of the Arch Enemy was as black as he
has been painted.


I was always of opinion that the fruit forbidden to our grandmother Eve
was an unripe apple. Eaten, it afflicted Adam with the first colic
known to this planet. He, the weaker vessel, sorrowed over his
transgression; but I doubt if Eve's repentance was thorough; for the
plucking of unripe fruit has been, ever since, a favorite hobby of her
sons and daughters,--until now our mankind has got itself into such a
chronic state of colic, that even Dr. Carlyle declares himself unable
to prescribe any Morrison's Pill or other remedial measure to allay the

Part of this irritation finds vent in a great cry about "legitimate
ambition." Somehow, because any American _may_ be President of the
United States, almost every American feels himself bound to run for the
office. A man thinks small things of himself, and his neighbors think
less, if he does not find his heart filled with an insane desire, in
some way, to attain to fame or notoriety, riches or bankruptcy.
Nevertheless, we are not purse-proud,--nor, indeed, proud at all,
more's the pity,--and receive a man just as readily whose sands of life
have been doled out to suffering humanity in the shape of patent pills,
as one who has entered Fifth Avenue by the legitimate way of pork and
cotton speculations, if only he have been successful,--which I call a
very noble trait in the American character.

Now this is all very well, and, granted that Providence has placed us
here to do what is best pleasing to ourselves, it is surely very noble
and grand in us to please to serve nothing less than our country or our
age. But let us not forget that the English language has such a little
word as _duty_. A man's talents, and, perhaps, once in a great while,
his wishes, would make him a great man, (if wishes ever did such
things, which I doubt,) while duty imperatively demands that he shall
remain a _little_ man. What then? Let us see.

Elkanah Brewster was going to New York to-morrow.

"What for, boy?" asked old Uncle Shubael, meeting whom on the
fish-wharf, he had bid him a cheery good-bye.

"To make my fortune," was the bold reply.

"Make yer fortin? You're a goose, boy! Stick to yer work here,--fishin'
summers an' shoemakin' winters. Why, there isn't a young feller on the
hull Cape makes as much as you. What's up? Gal gin ye the mitten? Or

"I don't want to make shoes, nor fish neither, Uncle Shub," said
Elkanah, soberly, looking the old fellow in the face,--"goin' down to
the Banks year arter year in cold an' fish-gurry, an' peggin' away all
winter, like mad. I want to be rich, like Captain Crowell; I want to be
a gentleman, like that painter-chap that give me drawin'-lessons, last
summer, when I stayed to home."

"Phew! Want to be rich an' a gentleman, eh? Gittin' tu big for yer
boots, youngster? What's yer old man du but go down t' the Banks
regular every spring? You're no better 'n he, I guess: Keep yer trade,
an' yer trade'll keep you. A rollin' stun gathers no moss. Dry bread tu
home's better 'n roast meat an' gravy abroad."

"All feet don't tread in one shoe, Uncle Shub," said young Brewster,
capping the old fellow's proverbs with another. "Don't see why I
shouldn't make money as well's other fellers. It's a free country, an'
if a feller wants to try suthin' else 'sides fishin' uv it, what d'yer
all want to be down on him fur? I don't want to slave all my days, when
other folks ken live in big houses an' ride in 'kerriges, an' all

"A'n't yer got bread enough to eat, an' a place to sleep? an' what
more's any on 'em got? You stay here; make yer money on the old Cape,
where yer father an' grand'ther made it afore you. Use yer means, an'
God 'll give the blessin'. Yer can't honestly git rich anywheres all tu
once. Good an' quickly don't often meet. One nail drives out another.
Slow an' easy goes fur in a day. Honor an' ease a'n't often bedfellows.
Don't yer be a goose, I tell ye. What's to become of Hepsy Ann?"

Having delivered himself of which last and hardest shot, Uncle Shubael
shouldered his cod-craft, and, without awaiting an answer, tugged
across the sand-beach for home.

Elkanah Brewster was a Cape-Cod boy, with a pedigree, if he had ever
thought of it, as long as any on the Cape,--and they are the longest in
the land. His forefathers had caught fish to the remotest generation
known. The Cape boys take to the water like young ducks; and are born
with a hook and line in their fists, so to speak, as the Newfoundland
codfish and Bay Chaleur mackerel know, to their cost. "Down on old
Chatham" there is little question of a boy's calling, if he only comes
into the world with the proper number of fingers and toes; he swims as
soon as he walks, knows how to drive a bargain as soon as he can talk,
goes cook of a coaster at the mature age of eight years, and thinks
himself robbed of his birthright, if he has not made a voyage to the
Banks before his eleventh birthday comes round. There is good stuff in
the Cape boys, as the South-Street ship-owners know, who don't sleep
easier than when they have put a "Cape man" in charge of their best
clipper. Quick of apprehension, fertile in resource, shrewd,
enterprising, brave, prudent, and, above all, lucky,--no better seamen
sail the sea. Long may they keep their prestige and their sand!

They are not rich on the Cape,--in the Wall-Street sense of the word,
that is to say. I doubt if Uncle Lew Baker, who was high line out of
Dennis last year, and who, by the same token, had to work himself right
smartly to achieve that honor,--I doubt if this smart and thoroughly
wide-awake fellow took home more than three hundred dollars to his wife
and children when old Obed settled the voyage. But then the good wife
saves while he earns, and, what with a cow, and a house and garden-spot
of his own, and a healthy lot of boys and girls, who, if too young to
help, are not suffered to hinder, this man is more forehanded and
independent, gives more to the poor about him and to the heathen at the
other end of the world, than many a city man who makes, and spends, his
tens of thousands.

Uncle Abijah Brewster, the father of this Elkanah, was an old
Banker,--which signifies here, not a Wall-Street broker-man, but a
Grand-Bank fisherman. He had brought up a goodly family of boys and
girls by his hook-and-line and, though now a man of some fifty winters,
still made his two yearly fares to the Banks, in his own trim little
pinky, and prided himself on being the smartest and jolliest man
aboard. His boys had sailed with him till they got vessels of their
own, had learned from his stout heart and strong arm their seamanship,
their fisherman's acuteness, their honest daring, and child-like trust
in God's Providence. These poor fishermen are not rich, as I have said;
a dollar looks to them as big as a dinner-plate to us, and a moderately
flush Wall-Street man might buy out the whole Cape and not overdraw his
bank-account. Also, they have but little book-learning among them,
reading chiefly their Bible, Bowditch, and Nautical Almanac, and
leaving theology mostly to the parson, on shore, who is paid for it.
But they have a conscience, and, knowing a thing to be right, do it
bravely, and against all odds. I have seen these men on Sunday, in a
fleet of busy "Sunday fishers," fish biting all around them, sitting
faithfully,--ay, and contentedly,--with book in hand, sturdily
refraining from what the mere human instinct of destruction would
strongly impel them to, without counting the temptation of
dollars,--and this only because they had been taught that Sunday was a
day of rest and worship, wherein no man should catch fish, and knew no
theological quibble or mercantile close-sailing by which to weather on
God's command. It sounds little to us who have not been tempted, or, if
tempted, have gracefully succumbed, on the plea that other people do so
too; but how many stock-speculators would see their follows buying
bargains and making easy fortunes on Sunday morning, and not forget the
ring of Trinity chimes and go in for dollars? Or which of us denies
himself his Monday morning's paper?

Elkanah had always been what his mother called a strange boy. He was,
indeed, an odd sheep in her flock. Restless, ambitious, dreamy, from
his earliest youth, he possessed, besides, a natural gift for drawing
and sketching, imitating and constructing, that bade fair, unless
properly directed, to make of him that saddest and most useless of
human lumber, a jack-at-all-trades. He profited more by his limited
winter's schooling than his brothers and fellows, and was always

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