The Life and Works of Thomas Paine - Vol. 7

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

ON THE PROPRIETY OF BRINGING LOUIS XVI TO TRIAL

AS I do not know precisely what day the Convention will resume the discussion on the trial of Louis XVI, and, on account of my inability to express myself in French, I cannot speak at the tribune, I request permission to deposit in your hands the inclosed paper, which contains my opinion on that subject. I make this demand with so much eagerness, because circumstances will prove how much it imports to France, that Louis XVI should continue to enjoy good health. I should be happy if the Convention would have the goodness to hear this paper read this morning, as I propose

HAVING written this address in English on November 20, 1792, Paine caused it to be translated and read to the French National Convention, to which he was a delegate, on the following day. The French poet-statesman Lamartine has admonished Paine for this address; but the trial of Louis XVI was a foregone conclusion, and Paine was already trying to avert popular fury from Louis himself by directing it against the monarchical system. Nor would his subsequent plea for the King's life have been listened to but for this earlier address.

Such statements as "Everybody knows that the Landgrave of Hesse [employed by the English Crown] fights only as far as he is paid . . . and if the trial of Louis XVI could bring it to light that this detestable dealer in human flesh has been paid with the produce of the taxes imposed on the English people, it would be justice to that nation to disclose that fact," precluded the publication of this address in England.

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