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    Thomas Paine

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    Chapter 5
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    These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the
    sunshine patriot will in this crisis shrink from the service of
    his country; but he that stands it NOW, deserves the love and
    thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily
    conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the
    conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap,
    we esteem too lightly; 't is dearness only that gives everything its
    value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and
    it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as FREEDOM
    should not be highly rated. --Paine, in "The Crisis"

    Thomas Paine was an English mechanic, of Quaker origin, born in the
    year Seventeen Hundred Thirty-seven. He was the author of four books
    that have influenced mankind profoundly. These books are, "Common
    Sense," "The Age of Reason," "The Crisis," and "The Rights of Man."

    In Seventeen Hundred Seventy-four, when he was thirty-seven years old,
    he came to America bearing letters of introduction from Benjamin

    On arriving at Philadelphia he soon found work as editor of "The
    Pennsylvania Magazine."

    In Seventeen Hundred Seventy-five, in the magazine just named, he
    openly advocated and prophesied a speedy separation of the American
    Colonies from England. He also threw a purple shadow over his
    popularity by declaring his abhorrence of chattel slavery.

    His writings, from the first, commanded profound attention, and on the
    advice and suggestion of Doctor Benjamin Rush, an eminent citizen of
    Philadelphia, the scattered editorials and paragraphs on human rights,
    covering a year, were gathered, condensed, revised, made into a book.

    This "pamphlet," or paper-bound book, was called "Common Sense."

    In France, John Adams was accused of writing "Common Sense." He
    stoutly denied it, there being several allusions in it stronger than
    he cared to stand sponsor for.

    In England, Franklin was accused of being the author, and he neither
    denied nor admitted it. But when a lady reproached him for having used
    the fine alliterative phrase, applied to the king, "The Royal British
    Brute," he smiled and said blandly, "Madame, I would never have been
    so disrespectful to the brute creation as that."

    "Common Sense" struck the keynote of popular feeling, and the
    accusation of "treason," hurled at it from many sources, only served
    to advertise it. It supplied the common people with reasons, and gave
    statesmen arguments. The Legislature of Pennsylvania voted Paine a
    honorarium of five hundred pounds, and the University of Pennsylvania
    awarded him the degree of "Master of Arts," in recognition of eminent
    services to literature and human rights. John Quincy Adams said,
    "Paine's pamphlet, 'Common Sense,' crystallized public opinion and was
    the first factor in bringing about the Revolution."

    The Reverend Theodore Parker once said: "Every living man in America
    in Seventeen Hundred Seventy-six, who could read, read 'Common Sense,'
    by Thomas Paine. If he was a Tory, he read it, at least a little, just
    to find out for himself how atrocious it was; and if he was a Whig, he
    read it all to find the reasons why he was one. This book was the
    arsenal to which the Colonists went for their mental weapons."

    As "Common Sense" was published anonymously and without copyright, and
    was circulated at bare cost, Paine never received anything for the
    work, save the twenty-five hundred dollars voted to him by the

    When independence was declared, Paine enlisted as a private, but was
    soon made aide-de-camp to General Greene. He was an intrepid and
    effective soldier and took an active part in various battles.

    In December, Seventeen Hundred Seventy-six, he published his second
    book, "The Crisis," the first words of which have gone into the
    electrotype of human speech, "These are the times that try men's
    souls." The intent of the letters which make up "The Crisis" was to
    infuse courage into the sinking spirits of the soldiers. Washington
    ordered the letters to be read at the head of every regiment, and it
    was so done.

    In Seventeen Hundred Eighty-one, Paine was sent to France with Colonel
    Laurens to negotiate a loan. The errand was successful, and Paine then
    made influential acquaintances, which were later to be renewed. He
    organized the Bank of North America to raise money to feed and clothe
    the army, and performed sundry and various services for the Colonies.

    In Seventeen Hundred Ninety-one he published his third book, "The
    Rights of Man," with a complimentary preface by Thomas Jefferson. The
    book had an immense circulation in America and England. By way of
    left-handed recognition of the work, the author was indicted by the
    British Government for "sedition." A day was set for the trial, but as
    Paine did not appear--those were hanging days--and could not be found,
    he was outlawed and "banished forever."

    He became a member of the French Assembly, or "Chamber of Deputies,"
    and for voting against the death of the king came under suspicion, and
    was cast into prison, where he was held for one year, lacking a few
    weeks. His life was saved by James Monroe, America's Minister to
    France, and for eighteen months he was a member of Monroe's household.

    In Seventeen Hundred Ninety-four, while in France, there was published
    simultaneously in England, America and France, Paine's fourth book,
    "The Age of Reason."

    In Eighteen Hundred Two, Thomas Jefferson, then President of the
    United States, offered Paine passage to America on board the man-of-
    war "Maryland," in order that he might be safe from capture by the
    English, who had him under constant surveillance and were intent on
    his arrest, regarding him as the chief instigator in the American
    Rebellion. Arriving in America, Paine was the guest for several months
    of the President at Monticello. His admirers in Baltimore, Washington,
    Philadelphia and New York gave banquets in his honor, and he was
    tendered grateful recognition on account of his services to humanity
    and his varied talents. He was presented by the State of New York, "in
    token of heroic work for the Union," a farm at New Rochelle, eighteen
    miles from New York, and here he lived in comparative ease, writing
    and farming.

    He passed peacefully away, aged seventy-two, in Eighteen Hundred Nine,
    and his body was buried on his farm, near the house where he lived,
    and a modest monument erected marking the spot. He had no Christian
    burial, although, unlike Mr. Zangwill, he had a Christian name. Nine
    years after the death of Paine, William Cobbett, the eminent English
    reformer, stung by the obloquy visited upon the memory of Paine in
    America, had the grave opened and the bones of the man who wrote the
    first draft of our Declaration of Independence were removed to
    England, and buried near the spot where he was born. Death having
    silenced both the tongue and the pen of the Thetford weaver, no
    violent interference was offered by the British Government. So now the
    dead man slept where the presence of the living one was barred and
    forbidden. A modest monument marks the spot. Beneath the name are
    these words, "The world is my country, mankind are my friends, to do
    good is my religion."

    In Eighteen Hundred Thirty-nine, a monument was erected at New
    Rochelle, New York, on the site of the empty grave where the body of
    Paine was first buried, by the lovers and admirers of the man. And
    while only one land claims his birthplace, three countries now
    dispute for the privilege of honoring his dust, for it so happened
    that in France a strong movement was on foot demanding that the
    remains of Thomas Paine be removed from England to France, and be
    placed in the Pantheon, that resting-place of so many of the
    illustrious dead who gave their lives to the cause of Freedom, close
    by the graves of Voltaire, Rousseau and Victor Hugo. And the reason
    the bones were not removed to Paris was because only an empty coffin
    rests in the grave at Thetford, as at New Rochelle. Rumor says that
    Paine's skull is in a London museum, but if so, the head that
    produced "The Age of Reason" can not be identified. And the end is
    not yet!

    * * * * *

    The genius of Paine was a flower that blossomed slowly. But life is a
    sequence, and the man who does great work has been in training for
    it. There is nothing like keeping in condition--one does not know
    when he is going to be called on. Prepared people do not have to hunt
    for a position--the position hunts for them. Paine knew no more about
    what he was getting ready for than did Benjamin Franklin, when at
    twenty he studied French, evenings, and dived deep into history.

    The humble origin of Paine and his Quaker ancestry were most helpful
    factors in his career. Only a working-man who had tasted hardship
    could sympathize with the overtaxed and oppressed. And Quakerdom made
    him a rebel by prenatal tendency. Paine's schooling was slight, but
    his parents, though poor, were thinking people, for nothing sharpens
    the wits of men, preventing fatty degeneration of the cerebrum, like
    persecution. In this respect, the Jews and Quakers have been greatly
    blessed and benefited--let us congratulate them. Very early in life
    Paine acquired the study habit. And for the youth who has the study
    habit no pedagogic tears need be shed. There were debating-clubs at
    coffeehouses, where great themes were discussed; and our young weaver
    began his career by defending the Quakers. He acquired considerable
    local reputation as a weaver of thoughts upon the warp and woof of
    words. Occasionally he occupied the pulpit in dissenting chapels.

    These were great times in England--the air was all athrob with
    thought and feeling. A great tidal wave of unrest swept the land. It
    was an epoch of growth, second only in history to the Italian
    Renaissance. The two Wesleys were attacking the Church, and calling
    upon men to methodize their lives and eliminate folly; Gibbon was
    writing his "Decline and Fall"; Burke, in the House of Commons, was
    polishing his brogue; Boswell was busy blithering about a book
    concerning a man; Captain Cook was sailing the seas finding
    continents; the two Pitts and Charles Fox were giving the king
    unpalatable advice; Horace Walpole was setting up his private press
    at Strawberry Hill; the Herschels--brother and sister--were sweeping
    the heavens for comets; Reynolds, West, Lawrence, Romney and
    Gainsborough were founding the first school of British Art; and David
    Hume, the Scotchman, was putting forth arguments irrefutable. And
    into this seething discontent came Thomas Paine, the weaver, reading,
    studying, thinking, talking, with nothing to lose but his reputation.
    He was twenty-seven years of age when he met Ben Franklin at a
    coffeehouse in London. Paine got his first real mental impetus from
    Franklin. Both were workingmen. Paine listened to Franklin one whole
    evening, and the said, "What he is I can at least in part become."
    Paine thought Franklin quite the greatest man of his time, an opinion
    which, among others held by him, the world now fully accepts.

    * * * * *

    Paine at twenty-four, from a simple weaver, had been called into the
    office of his employer to help straighten out the accounts. He tried
    storekeeping, but with indifferent success. Then it seems he was
    employed by the Board of Excise on a similar task. Finally he was
    given a position in the Excise. This position he might have held
    indefinitely, and been promoted in the work, for he had clerical
    talents which made his services valuable. But there was another theme
    that interested him quite as much as collecting taxes for the
    Government, and that was the philosophy of taxation. This was very
    foolish in Thomas Paine--a tax-collector should collect taxes, and
    not concern himself with the righteousness of the business, nor about
    what becomes of the money.

    Paine had made note of the fact that England collected taxes from
    Jews, but that Jews were not allowed to vote because they were not
    "Christians," it being assumed that Jews were not as fit, either
    intellectually or morally, to pass on questions of state as members
    of the "Church." In Seventeen Hundred Seventy-one, in a letter to a
    local paper, he used the phrase, "The iniquity of taxation without
    representation," referring to England's treatment of the Quakers.
    About the same time he called attention to the fact that the
    Christian religion was built on the Judaic, and that the reputed
    founder of the established religion was a Jew and his mother a Jewess,
    and to deprive Jews of the right of full citizenship, simply because
    they did not take the same view of Jesus that others did, was a
    perversion of the natural rights of man. This expression, "the
    natural rights of man," gave offense to a certain clergyman of
    Thetford, who replied that man had no natural rights, only
    privileges--all the rights he had were those granted by the Crown.
    Then followed a debate at the coffeehouse, followed by a rebuke from
    Paine's superior officer in the Excise, ordering him to cease all
    political and religious controversy on penalty.

    Paine felt the smart of the rebuke; he thought it was unjustifiable,
    in view of the fact that the excellence of his work for the Government
    had never been questioned. So he made a speech in a dissenting chapel
    explaining the situation. But explanations never explain, and his
    assertion that the honesty of his service had never been questioned
    was put out of commission the following week by the charge of
    smuggling. His name was dropped from the official payroll until his
    case could be tried, and a little later he was peremptorily
    discharged. The charge against him was not pressed--he was simply not
    wanted--and the statement by the head exciseman that a man working for
    the Government should not criticize the Government was pretty good
    logic, anyway. Paine, however, contended that all governments exist
    for the governed, and with the consent of the governed, and it is the
    duty of all good citizens to take an interest in their government, and
    if possible show where it can be strengthened and bettered.

    It will thus be seen that Paine was forging reasons--his active brain
    was at work, and his sensitive spirit was writhing under a sense of
    personal injustice.

    One of his critics--a clergyman--said that if Thomas Paine wished to
    preach sedition, there was plenty of room to do it outside of England.
    Paine followed the suggestion, and straightway sought out Franklin to
    ask him about going to America.

    Every idea that Paine had expressed was held by Franklin and had been
    thought out at length. Franklin was thirty-one years older than Paine,
    and time had tempered his zeal, and beside that, his tongue was always
    well under control, and when he expressed heresy he seasoned it with a
    smile and a dash of wit that took the bitterness out of it. Not so
    Paine--he was an earnest soul, a little lacking in humor, without the
    adipose which is required for a diplomat.

    Franklin's letters of introduction show how he admired the man--what
    faith he had in him--and it is now believed that Franklin advanced him
    money, that he might come to America.

    William Cobbett says:

    As my Lord Grenville has introduced the name of Edmund Burke, suffer
    me, my Lord, to introduce the name of a man who put this Burke to
    shame, who drove him off the public stage to seek shelter in the
    pension-list, and who is now named fifty million times where the
    name of the pensioned Burke is mentioned once. The cause of the
    American Colonies was the cause of the English Constitution,
    which says that no man shall be taxed without his own consent. A
    little cause sometimes produces a great effect; an insult offered to
    a man of great talent and unconquerable perseverance has in many
    instances produced, in the long run, most tremendous effects; and it
    appears to me very clear that the inexcusable insults offered to Mr.
    Paine while he was in the Excise in England was the real cause of
    the Revolution in America; for, though the nature of the cause of
    America was such as I have before described it, though the
    principles were firm in the minds of the people of that country,
    still it was Mr. Paine, and Mr. Paine alone, who brought those
    principles into action.

    Paine's part in the Revolutionary War was most worthy and honorable.
    He shouldered a musket with the men at Valley Forge, carried messages
    by night through the enemy's country, acted as rear-guard for
    Washington's retreating army, and helped at break of day to capture
    Trenton, and proved his courage in various ways. As clerk, secretary,
    accountant and financier he did excellent service.

    Of course, there had been the usual harmonious discord that will occur
    among men hard-pressed and over-worked, where nerve-tension finds vent
    at times in acrimony. But through all the nine long, weary years
    before the British had had enough, Paine was never censured with the
    same bitterness which fell upon the heads of Washington and Jefferson.
    Even Franklin came in for his share of blame, and it was shown that he
    had expended an even hundred thousand pounds in Europe, with no
    explanation of what he had done with the money. When called upon to
    give an accounting for the "yellow-dog fund," Franklin simply wrote
    back, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn." And
    on the suggestion of Thomas Paine, the matter was officially dropped.

    Paine was a writing man--the very first American writing man--and I am
    humiliated when I have to acknowledge that we had to get him from
    England. He was the first man who ever used these words, "The American
    Nation," and also these, "The United States of America." Paine is the
    first American writer who had a literary style, and we have not had so
    many since but that you may count them on the fingers of one hand.
    Note this sample of antithesis: "There are but two natural sources of
    wealth--the earth and the ocean--and to lose the right to either, in our
    situation, is to put the other up for sale."

    Here is a little tribute from Paine's pen to America which some of our
    boomers of boom towns might do well to use:

    America has now outgrown the state of infancy. Her strength and
    commerce make large advances to manhood; and science in all its
    branches has not only blossomed, but even ripened upon the soil. The
    cottages as it were of yesterday have grown into villages, and the
    villages to cities; and while proud antiquity, like a skeleton in
    rags, parades the streets of other nations, their genius, as if
    sickened and disgusted with the phantom, comes hither for recovery.
    America yet inherits a large portion of her first-imported virtue.
    Degeneracy is here almost a useless word. Those who are conversant
    with Europe would be tempted to believe that even the air of the
    Atlantic disagrees with the constitution of foreign vices; if they
    survive the voyage they either expire on their arrival, or linger
    away with an incurable consumption. There is a happy something in
    the climate of America which disarms them of all their power both
    of infection and attraction.

    Ease, fluidity, grace, imagination, energy, earnestness, mark his
    work. No wonder is it that Franklin said, "Others can rule, many can
    fight, but only Paine can write for us the English tongue." And
    Jefferson, himself a great writer, was constantly, for many years,
    sending to Paine manuscript for criticism and correction. In one
    letter to Paine, Jefferson adds this postscript, "You must not be too
    much elated and set up when I tell you my belief that you are the only
    writer in America who can write better than your obliged and obedient
    servant--Thomas Jefferson."

    Paine was living in peace at Bordentown in the year Seventeen Hundred
    Eighty-seven. The war was ended, the last hostile Britisher had
    departed, and the country was awakening to prosperity. Paine rode his
    mettlesome old war-horse "Button," back and forth from Philadelphia,
    often stopping and seating himself by the roadway to write out a
    thought while the horse that had known the smell of powder quietly
    nibbled the grass. The success of Benjamin Franklin as an inventor had
    fired the heart of Paine. He devised a plan to utilize small
    explosions of gunpowder to run an engine, thus anticipating our gas
    and gasoline engines by nearly a hundred years. He had also planned a
    bridge to span the Schuylkill. Capitalists were ready to build the
    bridge, provided Paine could get French engineers, then the greatest
    in the world, to endorse his plans. So he sailed away to France,
    intending also to visit his parents in England, instructing his
    friends in Bordentown with whom he boarded, to take care of his
    horse, his rooms and books with all his papers, for he would be back
    in less than a year. He was fifty years old. It was thirteen years
    since he had left England, and he felt that his transplantation to a
    new soil had not been in vain. England had practically exiled him,
    but still the land of his birth called, and unseen tendrils tugged at
    his heart. He must again see England, even for a brief visit, and then
    back to America, the land that he loved and which he had helped to

    And destiny devised that it was to be fifteen years before he was
    again to see his beloved "United States of America."

    Arriving in France, Paine was received with honours. There was much
    political unrest, and the fuse was then being lighted that was to
    cause the explosion of Seventeen Hundred Eighty-Nine. However, of all
    this Paine knew little.

    He met Danton, a freemason, like himself, and various other radicals.
    "Common Sense" and "The Crisis" had been translated into French,
    printed and widely distributed, and inasmuch as Paine had been a party
    in bringing about one revolution, and had helped carry it through to
    success, his counsel and advice were sought. A few short weeks in
    France, and Paine having secured the endorsement of the Academy for
    his bridge, went over to England preparatory to sailing for America.

    Arriving in England, Paine found that his father had died but a short
    time before. His mother was living, aged ninety-one, and in full
    possession of her faculties. The meeting of mother and son was full
    of tender memories. And the mother, while not being able to follow her
    gifted son in all of his reasoning, yet fully sympathized with him in
    his efforts to increase human rights. The Quakers, while in favor of
    peace, are yet revolutionaries, for their policy is one of protest.

    Paine visited the old Quaker church at Thetford, and there seated in
    the silence, wrote these words:

    When we consider, for the feelings of Nature can not be dismissed,
    the calamities of war and the miseries it inflicts upon the human
    species, the thousands and tens of thousands of every age and sex
    who are rendered wretched by the event, surely there is something in
    the heart of man that calls upon him to think! Surely there is some
    tender chord, tuned by the hand of the Creator, that still struggles
    to emit in the hearing of the soul a note of sorrowing sympathy. Let
    it then be heard, and let man learn to feel that the true greatness
    of a nation is founded on principles of humanity, and not on
    conquest. War involves in its progress such a train of unforeseen
    and unsupposed circumstances, such a combination of foreign matters,
    that no human wisdom can calculate the end. It has but one thing
    certain, and that is to increase taxes. I defend the cause of the
    poor, of the manufacturer, of the tradesman, of the farmer, and of
    all those on whom the real burden of taxes fall--but above all, I
    defend the cause of women and children--of all humanity.

    Edmund Burke, hearing of Paine's presence in England, sent for him to
    come to his house. Paine accepted the invitation, and Burke doubtless
    got a few interesting chapters of history at first hand. "It was equal
    to meeting Washington, and perhaps better, for Paine is more of a
    philosopher than his chief," wrote Burke to the elder Pitt.

    Paine saw that political unrest was not confined to France--that
    England was in a state of evolution, and was making painful efforts
    to adapt herself to the progress of the times. Paine could remember a
    time when in England women and children were hanged for poaching;
    when the insane were publicly whipped, and when, if publicly
    expressed, a doubt concerning the truth of Scripture meant exile or
    to have your ears cut off.

    Now he saw the old custom reversed and the nobles were bowing to the
    will of the people. It came to him that if the many in England could
    be educated, the Crown having so recently received its rebuke at the
    hands of the American Colonies, a great stride to the front could be
    made. Englishmen were talking about their rights. What are the natural
    rights of a man? He began to set down his thoughts on the subject.
    These soon extended themselves into chapters. The chapters grew into a
    book--a book which he hoped would peacefully do for England what
    "Common Sense" had done for America. This book, "The Rights of Man,"
    was written at the same time that Mary Wollstonecraft was writing her
    book, "The Rights of Women."

    In London, Paine made his home at the house of Thomas Rickman, a
    publisher. Rickman has given us an intimate glimpse into the life of
    the patriot, and told us among other things that Paine was five feet
    ten inches high, of an athletic build, and very fond of taking long
    walks. Among the visitors at Rickman's house who came to see Paine
    were Doctor Priestly, Home Tooke, Romney, Lord Edward Fitzgerald, the
    Duke of Portland and Mary Wollstonecraft. It seems very probable that
    Mrs. Wollstonecraft, as she styled herself, read to Paine parts of her
    book, for very much in his volume parallels hers, not only in the
    thought, but in actual wording. Whether he got more ideas from her
    than she got from him will have to be left to the higher critics.
    Certain it is that they were in mutual accord, and that Mrs.
    Wollstonecraft had read "Common Sense" and "The Rights of Man" to a

    It was too much to expect that a native-born Englishman could go
    across the sea to British Colonies and rebel against British rule and
    then come back to England and escape censure. The very popularity of
    Paine in certain high circles centered attention on him. And Pitt, who
    certainly admired Paine's talents, referred to his stay in England as

    England is the freest country on earth. It is her rule to let her
    orators unmuzzle their ignorance and find relief in venting grievances
    upon the empty air. In Hyde Park any Sunday one can hear the same
    sentiments for the suppression of which Chicago paid in her Haymarket
    massacre. Grievances expressed are half-cured, but England did not
    think so then. The change came about through thirty years' fight,
    which Paine precipitated.

    The patience of England in dealing with Paine was extraordinary. Paine
    was right, but at the same time he was as guilty as Theodore Parker
    was when indicted by the State of Virginia along with Ol' John Brown.

    "The Rights of Man" sold from the very start, and in a year fifty
    thousand copies had been called for.

    Unlike his other books, this one was bringing Paine a financial
    return. Newspaper controversies followed, and Burke, the radical,
    found himself unable to go the lengths to which Paine was logically
    trying to force him.

    Paine was in Paris, on a visit, on that memorable day which saw the
    fall of the Bastile. Jefferson and Adams had left France, and Paine
    was regarded as the authorized representative of America; in fact, he
    had been doing business in France for Washington. Lafayette in a
    moment of exultant enthusiasm gave the key of the Bastile to Paine to
    present to Washington, and as every American schoolboy knows, this
    famous key to a sad situation now hangs on its carefully guarded peg
    at Mount Vernon. Lafayette thought that, without the example of
    America, France would never have found strength to throw off the rule
    of kings, and so America must have the key to the detested door that
    was now unhinged forever.

    "And to me," said Lafayette, "America without her Thomas Paine is
    unthinkable." The words were carried to England and there did Paine no
    especial good. But England was now giving Paine a living--there was a
    market for the product of his pen--and he was being advertised both by
    his loving friends and his rabid enemies.

    Paine had many admirers in France, and in some ways he felt more at
    home there than in England. He spoke and wrote French. However, no man
    ever wrote well in more than one language, although he might speak
    intelligently in several; and the orator using a foreign tongue never
    reaches fluidity. "Where liberty is, there is my home," said
    Franklin. And Paine answered, "Where liberty is not, there is my
    home." The newspaper attacks had shown Paine that he had not made
    himself clear on all points, and like every worthy orator who
    considers, when too late, all the great things he intended to say, he
    was stung with the thought of all the brilliant things he might have
    said, but had not.

    And so straightway he began to prepare Part Two of "The Rights of
    Man." The book was printed in cheap form similar to "Common Sense,"
    and was beginning to be widely read by workingmen.

    "Philosophy is all right," said Pitt, "but it should be taught to
    philosophical people. If this thing is kept up London will re-enact
    the scenes of Paris."

    Many Englishmen thought the same. The official order was given, and
    all of Paine's books that could be found were seized and publicly used
    for a bonfire by the official hangman. Paine was burned in effigy in
    many cities, the charge being made that he was one of the men who had
    brought about the French Revolution. With better truth it could have
    been stated that he was the man, with the help of George the Third,
    who had brought about the American Revolution. The terms of peace made
    between England and the Colonies granted amnesty to Paine and his
    colleagues in rebellion, but his acts could not be forgotten, even
    though they were nominally forgiven. This new firebrand of a book was
    really too much, and the author got a left-handed compliment from the
    Premier on his literary style--books to burn!

    Three French provinces nominated him to represent them in the Chamber
    of Deputies. He accepted the solicitations of Calais, and took his
    seat for that province.

    He knew Danton, Mirabeau, Marat and Robespierre. Danton and
    Robespierre respected him, and often advised with him. Mirabeau and
    Marat were in turn suspicious and afraid of him. The times were
    feverish, and Paine, a radical at heart, here was regarded as a
    conservative. In America, the enemy stood out to be counted: the
    division was clear and sharp; but here the danger was in the hearts of
    the French themselves.

    Paine argued that we must conquer our own spirits, and in this new
    birth of freedom not imitate the cruelty and harshness of royalty
    against which we protest. "We will kill the king, but not the man,"
    were his words. But with all of his tact and logic he could not make
    his colleagues see that to abolish the kingly office, not to kill the
    individual, was the thing desired.

    So Louis, who helped free the American Colonies, went to the block,
    and his enemy, Danton, a little later, did the same; Mirabeau, the
    boaster, had died peacefully in his bed; Robespierre, who signed the
    death-warrant of Paine, "to save his own head," died the death he had
    reserved for Paine; Marat, "the terrible dwarf," horribly honest,
    fearfully sincere, jealous and afraid of Paine, hinting that he was
    the secret emissary of England, was stabbed to his death by a woman's

    And amid the din, escape being impossible, and also undesirable,
    Thomas Paine wrote the first part of "The Age of Reason."

    The second part was written in the Luxembourg prison, under the shadow
    of the guillotine. But life is only a sentence of death, with an
    indefinite reprieve. Prison, to Paine, was not all gloom.

    The jailer, Benoit, was good-natured and cherished his unwilling
    guests as his children. When they left for freedom or for death, he
    kissed them, and gave each a little ring in which was engraved the
    single word, "Mizpah." But finally Benoit, himself, was led away, and
    there was none to kiss his cheek, nor to give him a ring and cry
    cheerily, "Good luck, Citizen Comrade! Until we meet again!"

    * * * * *

    A great deal has been said by the admirers of Thomas Paine about the
    abuse and injustice heaped upon his name, and the prevarications
    concerning his life, by press and pulpit and those who profess a life
    of love, meekness and humility. But we should remember that all this
    vilification was really the tribute that mediocrity pays genius. To
    escape censure, one only has to move with the mob, think with the mob,
    do nothing that the mob does not do--then you are safe. The saviors of
    the world have usually been crucified between thieves, despised,
    forsaken, spit upon, rejected of men. In their lives they seldom had a
    place where they could safely lay their weary heads, and dying their
    bodies were either hidden in another man's tomb or else subjected to
    the indignities which the living man failed to survive: torn limb from
    limb, eyeless, headless, armless, burned and the ashes scattered or
    sunk in the sea.

    And the peculiar thing is that most of this frightful inhumanity was
    the work of so-called good men, the pillars of society, the
    respectable element, what we are pleased to call "our first citizens,"
    instigated by the Church that happened to be in power. Socrates
    poisoned; Aristides ostracized; Aristotle fleeing for his life; Jesus
    crucified; Paul beheaded; Peter crucified head downward; Savonarola
    martyred; Spinoza hunted, tracked and cursed, and an order issued that
    no man should speak to him nor supply him food or shelter; Bruno
    burned; Galileo imprisoned; Huss, Wyclif, Latimer and Tyndale used for
    kindling--all this in the name of religion, institutional religion,
    the one thing that has caused more misery, heartaches, bloodshed, war,
    than all other causes combined. Leo Tolstoy says, "Love, truth,
    compassion, service, sympathy, tenderness, exist in the hearts of men,
    and are the essence of religion, but try to encompass these things in
    an institution and you get a church--and the Church stands for and has
    always stood for coercion, intolerance, injustice and cruelty."

    No man ever lifted up his voice or pen in a criticism against love,
    truth, compassion, service, sympathy and tenderness. And if he had, do
    you think that love, truth, compassion, service, sympathy, tenderness,
    would feel it necessary to go after him with stocks, chains,
    thumbscrews and torches?

    You can not imagine it.

    Then what is it goes after men who criticize the prevailing religion
    and shows where it can be improved upon? Why, it is hate, malice,
    vengeance, jealousy, injustice, intolerance, cruelty, fear.

    The reason the Church does not visit upon its critics today the same
    cruelties that it did three hundred years ago is simply because it has
    not the power. Incorporate a beautiful sentiment and hire a man to
    preach and defend it, and then buy property and build costly buildings
    in which to preach your beautiful sentiment, and if the gentleman who
    preaches your beautiful sentiment is criticized he will fight and
    suppress his critics if he can. And the reason he fights his critics
    is not because he believes the beautiful sentiment will suffer, but
    because he fears losing his position, which carries with it ease,
    honors and food, and a parsonage and a church, tax-free.

    Just as soon as the gentleman employed to defend and preach the
    beautiful sentiment grows fearful about the permanency of his
    position, and begins to have goose-flesh when a critic's name is
    mentioned, the beautiful sentiment evaporates out of the window, and
    exists only in that place forever as a name. The Church is ever a
    menace to all beautiful sentiments, because it is an economic
    institution, and the chief distributor of degrees, titles and honors.

    Anything that threatens to curtail its power it is bound to oppose and
    suppress, if it can. Men who cease useful work, in order to devote
    themselves to religion, are right in the same class with women who
    quit work to make a business of love. Men who know history and
    humanity and have reasonably open minds are not surprised at the
    treatment visited upon Paine by the country he had so much benefited.
    Superstition and hallucination are really one thing, and fanaticism,
    which is mental obsession, easily becomes acute, and the whirling
    dervish runs amuck at sight of a man whose religious opinions are
    different from his own.

    Paine got off very easy; he lived his life, and expressed himself
    freely to the last. Men who discover continents are destined to die in
    chains. That is the price they pay for the privilege of sailing on,
    and on, and on, and on.

    Said Paine:

    The moral duty of a man consists in imitating the moral goodness and
    beneficence of God manifested in the creation towards all creatures.
    That seeing as we daily do, the goodness of God to all men, it is an
    example calling upon all men to practise towards each other, and
    consequently that everything of persecution and revenge between man
    and man, and everything of cruelty to animals, is a violation of
    moral duty.

    * * * * *

    The pen of Paine made the sword of Washington possible. And as Paine's
    book, "Common Sense," broke the power of Great Britain in America,
    and "The Rights of Man" gave free speech and a free press to England,
    so did "The Age of Reason" give pause to the juggernaut of orthodoxy.
    Thomas Paine was the legitimate ancestor of Hosea Ballou, who founded
    the Universalist Church, and also of Theodore Parker, who made
    Unitarianism in America an intellectual torch.

    Channing, Ripley, Bartol, Martineau, Frothingham, Hale, Curtis,
    Collyer, Swing, Thomas, Conway, Leonard, Savage--yes, even Emerson and
    Thoreau--were spiritual children, all, of Thomas Paine. He blazed the
    way and made it possible for men to preach the sweet reasonableness of
    reason. He was the pioneer in a jungle of superstition. Thomas Paine
    was the real founder of the so-called Liberal Denominations, and the
    business of the liberal denominations has not been to become great,
    powerful and popular, but to make all other denominations more
    liberal. So today in all so-called orthodox pulpits one can hear the
    ideas of Paine, Henry Frank and B. Fay Mills expounded.
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