The Life and Works of Thomas Paine - Vol. 7

By Thomas Paine; William M. Van der Weyde | Go to book overview

RIGHTS, OF MAN--PART SECOND

CHAPTER V
WAYS AND MEANS OF IMPROVING THE CONDITION OF EUROPE, INTERSPERSED WITH MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS.

IN contemplating a subject that embraces with equatorial magnitude the whole region of humanity, it is impossible to confine the pursuit in one single direction. It takes ground on every character and condition that appertains to man, and blends the individual, the nation, and the world.

THIS concluding chapter of the second part of the "Rights of Man," which placed Paine at the head of contemporary political writers, was published in February, 1792. Its popular reception established a precedent, nearly a million and a half copies being printed and published in England in the author's lifetime.

Naturally it made him enemies in government circles, and in September of that year he went to France by invitation of the French Convention. In December an English court found him guilty of treason for having written the revolutionary treatise, the publishers and booksellers being each sentenced to three years in prison. One of them, Thomas Clio Rickman, who afterwards wrote a life of Paine, avoided imprisonment by hurriedly following Paine to France.

From a small spark kindled in America, a flame has arisen not to be extinguished. Without consuming, like the Ultima Ratio Regum, it winds its progress from nation to nation, and conquers by a

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