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ruption. The grandeur of nations consists not, as kings pretend, in the splendour of thrones, but in a conspicuous sense of their own dignity, and in a just disdain of those barbarous follies and crimes, which under the sanction of royalty, have hitherto desolated Europe.
"As to the personal safety of M. Louis Capet, it is so much the more confirmed, as France will not stoop to degrade herself by a spirit of revenge, against a wretch who has dishonoured himself.
"In defending a just and glorious cause it is not possible to degrade it, and the universal tranquility which prevails, is an undeniable proof that a free people know how to respect themselves."
Having thus explained the principles and the exertions of the republicans, at that fatal period when Louis was re-instated in full possession of the executive power, which by his flight had been suspended, I return to the subject, and to the deplorable situation in which the man is now actually involved.
What was neglected at the time of which I have been speaking, has been since brought about by the force of necessity; the wilful treacherous defects in the former constitution have been brought to light, the continual alarm of treason and conspiracy roused the nation, and produced eventually a second revolution. The people have beat down royalty, never, never to rise again ; they have brought Louis Capet to the bar, and demonstrated, in the face of the whole world, the intrigues, the canals, the falsehood, corruption, and rooted depravity, the inevitable effects of monarchical governments. There remains, then, only one question to be considered, what is to be done with this man.
For myself, I seriously confess, that when I reflect on the unaccountable folly that restored the executive power to his hands, all covered as he was with perjury and treason, I am far more ready to condemn the Constituent Assembly than the unfortunate prisoner Louis Capet.
But abstracted from every other consideration, there is one circumstance in his life which ought to cover, or at least to palliate, a great number of his transgressions; and this very circumstance affords the French nation a blessed occasion of extricating itself from the yoke of kings, without defiling itself in the impuritiej.of their blood.
It is to France alone, I know, that the United States of America owe that support which enabled them to shake off the unjust and tyrannical yoke of Britain. The ardour and zeal which she displayed to provide both men and money, were the natural consequences of a thirst for liberty. But as the nation at that time, restrained by the shackles of her own government, could only act by the means of a monarchical organ—this organ—whatever in other respects the object might be, certainly performed a good, a great action.
Let, then, these United States be the safeguard and asylum of Louis Capet. There, hereafter, far removed from the miseries and crimes of royalty, he may learn from the constant aspect of public prosperity, that the true system of government consists not in kings, but in a fair, equal, and honourable representation.
In relating this circumstance, and in submitting this proposition, I consider myself as a citizen of both countries. I submit it as a citizen of America, who feels the debt of gratitude which he owes to every Frenchman. I submit it also as a man, who, although the enemy of kings, cannot forget that they are subject to human frailties. I support my proposition as a citizen of the French Republic, because it appears to me the best, the most politic measure that can be adopted.
As far as my experience in public life extends, I have ever observed, that the great mass of the people are invariably just, both in their attentions and in their object: but the true method of accomplishing that effect, does not always shew itself in the first instance.
For example, the English nation had groaned under the despotism of the Stuarts. Hence Charles the First lost his life; yet Charles the Second was restored to all the plenitude of power which his father had lost.
Forty years had not expired, when the same family strove to re-establish their ancient oppressions; so the nation then banished from its territories the whole race. The remedy was effectual. The Stuart family sunk into obscurity, crowded itself with the multitude, and is at length extinct.
The French nation, more enlightened than England was at that time, has carried her measures of government to a greater length. France is not satisfied with exposing the guilt of the monarch, she has penetrated into the views and horrors of the monarchy. She has shewn them clear as day-light, and for ever crushed that infernal system ; and he, whoever he may be, that should ever dare to reclaim those rights, would be regarded not as a pretender, but punished as a traitor.
Two brothers of Louis Capet have banished themselves from the country, but they are obliged to bear with the spirit and etiquette of the courts where they reside. They can advance no pretensions on their own account, so long as Louis Capet shall live,
The history of monarchy in France, was a system pregnant with crimes and murders, cancelling all natural ties, even those by which brothers are united. We know how often they have assassinated each other to pave a way to power. As those hopes which the emigrants had reposed in Louis XVI. are fled, the last which remains rests upon his death and their situation inclines them to desire this catastrophe, that they may once again rally round a more active chief, and try one further effort under the fortune of the ci-devant Monsieur and Count d'Artois.
That such an enterprize would precipitate them into a new abyss of calamity and disgrace, it is not difficult to foresee; but yet it might be attended with mutual loss, and it is our duty, as legislators, not to spill a drop of blood, when our purpose may be effectually accomplished without it.
It has already been proposed to abolish the punishment of death; and it is with infinite satisfaction, that I recollect the humane and excellent oration pronounced by Robespierre, on that subject in the Constituent Assembly. This cause must find its advocates in every corner where enlightened politicians and lovers of humanity exist; and it ought above all to find them in this assembly.
Monarchical Governments have trained the human race, and inured it to the sanguinary arts and refinements of punishment; and it is exactly the same punishment which has so long shocked the sight and tormented the patience of the people, that now, in their turn, they practise in revenge on their oppressors. But it becomes us to be strictly on our 'guard against the abomination and perversity of monarchical examples: as France has been the first of European na ions to abolish royalty, let her also be the first to abolish the punishment of death, and to find out a milder and more effectual substitute. >
In the particular case now under consideration, I submit the following propositions:—1st. That the National Convention shall pronounce sentence of banishment on Louis and his family. 2d. That Louis Capet shall be detained in prison till the end of the war ; and at that epoch the sentence of banishment to be executed.
SPEECH ON THE CONSTITUTION.
The Translation ofwhich was read by Citizen Lanthera, in the Convention, July 1th, 1795.
On the motion of Lauthenas, " that permission be granted to Thomas Paine, to deliver his sentiments on the Declaration of Rights, and the Constitution."
Thomas Paine ascended the tribune, and no opposition being made to the motion, one of the Secretaries who stood by Mr. Paine read his speech, of which the following is a literal translation from" La Gazette Nationals, ou Monitear Universel."
Citizens, the effects of a malignant fever with which I was afflicted during a rigorous confinement in the Luxembourg, have thus long prevented me from attending at my post in the bosom of the Convention; and the magnitude of the subject under discussion, and no other consideration ou earth, could induce me now to repair to my station.
A recurrence to the vicissitudes I have experienced, and the critical situations in which I have been placed in consequence of the French Revolution, will throw upon what I now propose to submit to the Convention, the most unequivocal proofs of my integrity, and the rectitude of those principles which have uniformly influenced my conduct.
In England I was proscribed for having vindicated the French Revolution, and I have suffered a rigorous imprisonment in France for having pursued a similar mode of conduet. During the reign of terrorism, I was a close prisoner for eight long months, and remained so above three months after the terms of the 10th Thermidor. I ought, however, to state, that I was not persecuted by the People, either of England or of France. The proceedings in both countries were the effects of the despotism existing in their respective Governments. But even if my persecution had originated in the people at large, my principles and conduct would still have remained the same. Principles which are influenced and subject to the controul of tyranny, have not their foundation in the heart.
A few days ago I transmitted to you, in the ordinary mode of distribution, a short treatise, entitled, "A Dissertation, on the First Principles of Government." This little work I did intend to have dedicated to the people of Holland, (who, about the time I began to write it, were determined to accomplish a revolution in their Government,) rather than to the people of France, who had long before effected that glorious object. But there are, in the Constitution, which is about to be ratified by the Convention, certain articles, and in the report which preceded it, certain points, so repugnant to reason, and incompatible with the true principles of liberty, as to render this treatise, drawn up for another purpose, applicable to the present occasion, and under this impression I presume to submit it to your consideration.
If there be faults in the Constitution, it were better to expunge them now, than to abide the eventof their mischievous tendency; for certain it is, that the plan of Constitution which has been presented to you, is not consistent with the grand object of the revolution, nor congenial to the sentiments of the individuals who accomplished it.
To deprive half the people in a nation of their rights as citizens, is an easy matter in theory or on paper; but it is a most dangerous experiment, and rarely practicable in the execution.
I shall now proceed to the observations I have to offer on this important subject, and pledge myself that they shall neither be numerous nor diffusive.
In my apprehension, a Constitution embraces two distinct parts or objects, the principle and the practice; and it is not only an essential, but an indispensible provision that the practice should emanate from, and accord with the principle. Now, I maintain, that the converse of this proposition is the case in the plan of Constitution under discussion. The firstarticle, forinstauce, of the Political State of Citizens, (v. Title II. Of The Constitution) says,
"Every man born and resident in France, who being twenty-one years of age, has inscribed his name on the civic register of his canton, and who has lived afterwards one year on the territory of the republic, and who pays any direct contribution whatsoever, real or personal, is a French citizen."
I might here ask, if those only who come under the above description are to be considered as citizens, what designation do you mean to give the rest of the people? I allude to