The Rights of Man

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Soon after appeared Burke's " Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs." In this Burke quoted a good deal from " Rights of Man," but replied to it only with exclamation points, saying that the only answer such ideas merited was "criminal justice." Paine's Part Second followed, published February 17, 1792. In Part First Paine had mentioned a rumor that Burke was a masked pensioner (a charge that will be noticed in connection with its detailed statement in a further publication); and as Burke had been formerly arraigned in Parliament, while Paymaster, for a very questionable proceeding, this charge no doubt hurt a good deal. Although the government did not follow Burke's suggestion of a prosecution at that time, there is little doubt that it was he who induced the prosecution of Part Second. Before the trial came on, December 18, 1792, Paine was occupying his seat in the French Convention, and could only be outlawed.

Burke humorously remarked to a friend of Paine and himself, " We hunt in pairs." The severally representative character and influence of these two men in the revolutionary era, in France and England, deserve more adequate study than they have received. While Paine maintained freedom of discussion, Burke first proposed criminal prosecution for sentiments by no means libellous (such as Paine's Part First). While Paine was endeavoring to make the movement in France peaceful, Burke fomented the league of monarchs against France which maddened its people, and brought on the Reign of Terror. While Paine was endeavoring to preserve the French throne ("phantom" though he believed it), to prevent bloodshed, Burke was secretly writing to the Queen of France, entreating her not to compromise, and to " trust to the support of foreign armies " (" Histoire de France depuis 1789." Henri Martin, i., 151). While Burke thus helped to bring the King and Queen to the guillotine, Paine pleaded for their lives to the last moment. While Paine maintained the right of mankind to improve their condition, Burke held that " the awful Author of our being is the author of our place in the order of existence; and that, having disposed and marshalled us by a divine tactick, not according to our will, but according to his, he has, in and by that disposition, virtually subjected us to act the part which belongs to the place assigned us." Paine was a religious believer in eternal principles; Burke held that " political problems do not primarily concern truth or falsehood. They relate to good or evil. What in the result is likely to produce evil is politically false, that which is productive of good politically is true." Assuming thus the visionary's right to decide before the result what was " likely to produce evil," Burke vigorously sought to kindle war against the French Republic which might have developed itself peacefully, while Paine was striving for an international Congress in Europe in the interest of peace. Paine had faith in the people, and believed that, if allowed to choose representatives, they would select their best and wisest men; and that while reforming government the people would remain orderly, as they had generally remained in America during the transition from British rule to selfgovernment. Burke maintained that if the existing political order were broken up there would be no longer a people, but " a number of vague, loose individuals, and nothing more." " Alas! " he exclaims, " they little know how many a weary step is to be taken before they can form themselves into a mass, which has a true personality." For the sake of peace Paine wished the revolution to be peaceful as the advance of summer; he used every endeavor to reconcile English radicals to some modus vivendi with the existing order, as he was willing to retain Louis XVI. as head of the executive in France: Burke resisted every tendency of English statesmanship to reform at home, or to negotiate with the French Republic, and was mainly responsible for the King's death and the war that followed between England and France in February, 1793. Burke became a royal favorite, Paine was outlawed by a prosecution originally proposed by Burke. While Paine was demanding religious liberty, Burke was opposing the removal of penal statutes from Unitarians, on the ground that but for those statutes Paine might some day set up a church in England. When Burke was retiring on a large royal pension, Paine was in prison, through the devices of Burke's confederate, the American Minister in Paris. So the two men, as Burke said, " hunted in pairs."

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