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that portion of the people on whom the principal part of the labour falls, and on whom the weight of indirect taxation will, in the event, chiefly press. In the structure of the social fabric, this class of people are infinitely superior to that privileged order, whose only qualification is their wealth or territorial possessions. For what is trade without merchants? What is land without cultivation ? And what is the produce of the land without manufactures ? But to return to the subject.
In the first place, this article is incompatible with the three first articles of the Declaration of Rights, which precedes the Constitutional Act.
The first article of the Declaration of Rights, says:
The end of society is the public good, and the institution of Government is to secure to every individual the enjoyment of his rights.
But the article of the Constitution to which I have just adverted, proposes as the object of society, not the public good, or, in other words, the good of all, but a partial good, or the good only of a few; and the Constitution provides solely for the rights of this few to the exclusion of the many.
The secoud article of the Declaration of Rights, says:
“ The rights of man in society are liberty, equality, security of his person and property.”
But the article alluded to in the Constitution, bas a direct tendency to establish the converse of this position, inasmuch as the persons excluded by this inequality, can neither be said to possess liberty, nor security against oppression. They are consigned totally, to the caprice and tyranny of the rest.
The third article of the Declaration of Rights, says:
* Liberty consists in acts of volition as are not injurious to others.”
But the article of the Constitution on which I have observed, breaks down this barrier. It enables the liberty of one part of society to destroy the freedom of the other.
Having thus pointed out the inconsistency of this article to the Declaration of Rights, I shall proceed to comment on that part of the same article, which makes a direct contribution à necessary qualification to the right of citizenship.
A modern refinement on the object of public revenue, has divided the taxes, or contributions, into two classes, the direct and the indirect, without being able to define precisely or distinctly the difference between them, because the effect of both is the same.
Those are designated indirect taxes which fall upon the consumers of certain articles on which the tax is imposed, because the tax being included in the price, the customer pays it without taking notice of it.
The same observation is applicable to the territorial tax. The land proprietors, in order to reimburse themselves, will rack-rent their tenants. The farmer, of course, will transfer the obligation to the miller, by enhancing the price of grain; the miller to the baker, by increasing the price of flour; and the baker to the consumer, by raising the price of bread. The territorial tax, therefore, though called direct, is in its consequences indirect.
To this tax the land proprietor contributes only in proportion to the quantity of bread and other provisions that are consumed in his own family. The deficit is furnished by the great mass of the community which .comprehends every individual of a nation.
From the logical distinction between direct and indirect taxation, some emolument may result, I allow, to auditors of public accounts, &c. &c. but to the people at large I deny, that such a distinction (which by the bye is without a difference) can be productive of any practical benefit. It ought not, therefore, to be admitted as a principle in the Constitution.
Besides this objection, the provision in question does not affect to define, secure, or establish the right of citizenship. It consigns to the caprice or discretion of the legislature the power of pronouncing, who shall, or shall not exercise the functions of a citizen; and this may be done effectually, either by the imposition of a direct or indirect tax, according to the selfish views of the legislators, or by the mode of collecting the taxes so imposed. Neither a tenant who occupies an extensive farm, nor a merchant or manufacturer, who may have embarked a large capital in their respective pursuits can ever, according to this system, attain the preemption of a citizen. On the other hand, any upstart, who has, by succession or management, got possession of a few acres of land, or a miserable tenement, may exultingly exercise the functions of a citizen, although perhaps he neither possesses a hundredth part of the worth or property of a simple mechanic, nor contributes in any proportion to the exigencies of the state.
The contempt in which the old Government held mercantile pursuits, and the obloquy that attached on merchants and manufacturers, contributed not a little to its embarrass
ments, and its eventual subversion : and, strange to tell, though the mischiefs arising from this mode of conduct are so obvious, yet an article is proposed for your adoption, which has a manifest tendency to restore a defect, inherent in the monarchy.
I shall now proceed to the second article of the same title, with which I shall conclude my remarks.
The second article says, “ every French soldier who shall have served one or more campaigns in the cause of liberty, is deemed a citizen of the Republic, without any respect or reference to other qualifications."
It should seem that in this article, the committee were desirous of extricating themselves from a dilemma into which they had been plunged by the preceding article. When men depart from an established principle, they are compelled to rescrt to trick and subterfuge, always shifting their means to preserve the unity of their objects; and as it rarely happens that the first expedients make amends for the prostitution of principle, they must call in aid a second of a more flagrant nature to supply the deficiency of the former. In this manner, legislators go on, accumulating error upon error, and artifice upon artifice, until the mass becomes so bulky and incongruous, and their embarrassment so desperate, that they are compelled, as their last expedient, to resort to the very principle they had violated. The committee were precisely in this predicament, when they framed this article, and to me, I must confess, their conduct appears specious rather than efficacious.
It was not for himself alone, but for his family, that the French citizen, at the dawn of the Revolution, (for then, indeed, every man was considered a citizen) marched soldier-like to the frontiers, and repelled a foreign invasion. He bad it not in his contemplation, that he should enjoy liberty for the residue of his earthly career, and by his own act preclude his offspring from that inestimable blessing. No, he wished to leave it as an inheritance to his children, and that they might hand it down to their latest posterity. If a Frenchman, who united in his person the character of a soldier and a citizen was now to return from the army to his peaceful habitation, he must address his small family in this manner: Sorry I am that I cannot leave to you a small portion of what I have acquired by exposing my person to the ferocity of our enemies, and defeating their machinations. 'I have established the Republic, and, painful the reflection, all the laurels I have won in the field are blasted, and all the privileges to which my exertions have entitled me, extend not beyond the period of my own existence!” Thus the measure that has been adopted by way of subterfuge, falls short of what the framers of it speculated upon; for in conciliating the affections of the Soldier, they have subjected the Father to the most pungent sensations, by obliging him to adopt a generation of slaves.
Citizens, a great deal has been urged respecting insurrections. I am confident no man has a greater abhorrence of them than myself, and I am sorry that any insinuations should have been thrown out upon me as a promoter of violence of any kind. The whole tenour of my life and conversation gives the lie to those calumnies, and proves me to be a friend to order, truth and justice.
I hope you will attribute this effusion of my sentiments, , to my, anxiety for the honour and success of the Revolution. I have no interest distinct from that which has a tendency to meliorate the situation of mankind. The Revolution, as far as it respects myself, has been productive of more loss and persecution than is possible for me to describe, or for you to indemnify. But with respect to the subject under consideration, I could not refrain from declaring my sentiments. In my opinion, if you subvert the basis of the Revolution, if you dispense with principles and substitute expedients, you will extinguish that enthusiasm and energy wbich have hitherto been the life and soul of the Revolution; and you will substitute in its place nothing but a cold indifference and self-interest, which will again degenerate into intrigue, cunning, and effeminacy.
But to discard all considerations of a personal and subordinate nature, it is essential to the well-being of the Republic, that the practical or organic part of the Constitution should correspond with its principles; and as this does not appear to be the case in the plan that has been presented to you, it is absolutely necessary that it should be submitted to the revision of a committee, who should be instructed to compare it with the declaration of rights, in order to ascertain the difference between the two, and to make such alterations as shall render them perfectly consistent and compatible with each other.
TO THE PEOPLE OF FRANCE AND THE FRENCII ARMIES ON THE EVENT OF THE 1871 FRUCTIDOR, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
[The Publisher regrets that he has not been able to obtain a
perfect copy of this Letter; the following is taken from the Courier of November 30, 1797, the Editor of which observes, “ Whilst some of the hireling English Journals were informing us of Mr. Paine's arrival in America, and giving an account of the reception he met with from the inhabitants of that country, which we were told by these propagators of falsehood was a very cool one-it appears that this too long calumniated'* character was employing himself at Paris in writing a pamphlet under the above title. The following extract will afford our readers a good specimen of the manner in which this very interesting work is written.”]
ALMOST as suddenly as the morning light dissipates darkness, did the establishment of the Constitution change the face of affairs in France. Security succeeded to terror, prosperity to distress, plenty to famine; and confidence increased as the days multiplied, until the coming of the New Third. A series of victories unequalled in the world, followed each other, almost too rapidly to be counted, and too numerous to be remembered. The coalition every where defeated and confounded, cruinbled away like a ball of dust in the hand of a giant. Every thing during that period was acted on such a mighty scale, that reality appeared a dream, and truth outstripped romance. It may tiguratively be said, that the Rhine and the Rubicon (Germany and Italy) replied in triumphs to each other, and the echoing Alps prolonged the shout. I will not here dishonour a great description by noticing too much the English Ministry. It is
* See Sir Francis Burdett's speech at the Shakspeare Tavern.