"IT IS A DANGEROUS ATTEMPT IN ANY GOVERNMENT TO SAY TO A NATION, 'THOU SHALT NOT READ'":1792 EDITION OF PAINE’S IMPORTANT LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE ADDRESSERS
PAINE, Thomas. Letter Addressed to the Addressers on the Late Proclamation. London: Printed for H.D. Symonds… and Thomas Clio Rickman, 1792. Slim octavo (4-1/4 by 7-3/4 inches), period style marbled paper wrappers; pp. (ii) (1-3) 4-40 (2). $1200.
1792 edition of Paine’s fiery Letter, one of the earliest printings of this passionate work penned while fleeing charges for sedition, a defense of Rights of Man that calls forth the model of the American Revolution in “a brazen call for a revolution in England… sometimes referred to as the Third Part of the Rights of Man” (Gimbel-Yale).
Following publication of the second part of Rights of Man (1792), British authorities "spied on Paine's every move… In May 1792 the government issued a proclamation 'against wicked and seditious writings'… Defiantly Paine penned another, shorter pamphlet Letter Addressed to the Addressers on the Late Proclamation" (Kaye, 77-8). Now an enemy of the state, Paine here "makes a brazen call for a revolution in England" (Gimbel-Yale 76). Continuing his proposal in Rights of Man that defined a constitution as "the act of the people creating a government and giving it power"—implying England had no constitution—Paine writes: "Two Revolutions have taken place—those of America and France; and both of them have rejected the unnatural compounded system of the English Government" (16). His Letter also attacks the banning of his works, proclaiming "It is a dangerous attempt in any Government to say to a Nation, 'thou shalt not read" (14). Before this pamphlet could be published, however, Paine was forced to flee to France, and in December was tried in absentia and found guilty of seditious libel. "This attack on the evils of English government is practically a third part of [Paine's] Rights of Man" (Howes). When exiled in Paris, Paine "corrected the proofs [of this Letter] and sent them back to London, where the work was published around the 16th of October 1792 by Symonds and Rickman" (Gimbel-Yale 76). While impossible to determine the priority of the several 1792 printings, publishers of this edition were held responsible for its traitorous sentiments and both prosecuted; Rickman escaped to France and Symonds was jailed for two years. First edition of the important Symonds/Rickman 40-page edition: title page with "Proclamation" measuring 5.4 cm. long; Paine's other work: "Rights of Man, Two Parts"; press figures 15-3, 17-2, 36-4. Issued the same year in London by Jordan in a 40-page edition and by Symonds in a 78-page edition. Bound without half title, rear ad leaf. Lowndes, 1761. Gimbel-Paine, 74. Gimbel-Yale 76. ESTC T5838. See: Howes P28; Goldsmiths 15482-83; PMM 241.
A fine copy.