"THE CLEAREST OF ALL EXPOSITIONS OF THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF DEMOCRACY" (PMM): RARE 1791-1792 EDITION OF PAINE'S RIGHTS OF MAN, WHERE PAINE "FULLY DEVELOPED HIS GREAT POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY"
PAINE, Thomas. Rights of Man: Being an Answer to Mr. Burke's Attack on the French Revolution. Fourth Edition. BOUND WITH: Rights of Man. Part the Second. Combining Principle and Practice. The Second Edition. London: Printed for J.S. Jordan, 1791, 1792. Octavo, 19th-century three-quarter calf, marbled boards; pp. [iii-vii], viii-x, -171, ; [i-v], vi, [vii], viii-xv, [xvi], , 2-174, , 176-178. $12,500.
Rare fourth edition of Part I and second edition of Part II of Rights of Man, each published shortly after the first editions by J.S. Jordan, who published Part I after the original edition was suppressed and was arrested for publishing Part II. One of Paine’s most important, influential, and bestselling works, Rights of Man resulted in the prosecution in England of Paine, his publishers, and booksellers, forcing Paine to flee to France.
Hoping Rights of Man "would do for England what his Common Sense had done for America," Paine answered Edmund Burke's attack on the French Revolution with his "celebrated answer, The Rights of Man" (Gimbel-Yale 59). Written "with a force and clarity unequalled even by Burke, Paine laid down those principles of fundamental human rights which must stand, no matter what excesses are committed to obtain them… The government tried to suppress it, but it circulated the more briskly… [Rights of Man is] the textbook of radical thought and the clearest of all expositions of the basic principles of democracy" (PMM 241). In this revolutionary work, "Paine's attack on monarchy went farther than he had attempted on Common Sense or the Crisis series… Rights of Man was one of the most ardent and clear defenses of human rights, liberty and equality in any language… Like Locke, Paine wrote that people have rights naturally, and as they joined together to form society and then government, they transformed a number of their natural rights into civil rights… Rights of free speech, opinion, conscience, association (in America those rights became embodied in the first amendment to the Constitution in the same year the first part of the Rights of Man appeared) were all part of the natural rights which a properly constituted government must protect" (Fruchtman, 225).
Paine's friends, Franklin, Jefferson, Washington and other Founding Fathers, it was Jefferson, in particular, who "evidently appreciated what America owed Paine and surely sensed how Paine's thinking had shaped his own. It was not only the Declaration of Independence that reflected Paine's influence. Jefferson's later work did as well… Jefferson understood how much the Republican movement had depended on Paine's pen and the diverse folk inspired by it. In the spring of 1791 Jefferson had hailed the first part of Rights of Man" (Kaye, 92). In early 1792, when Paine sent him a first edition of Part the Second, Jefferson responded by writing a letter to Paine in praise. In it, Jefferson spoke of his distress at the rise in America of some who were "panting after an English constitution… itching for crowns, coronets & mitres, but our people, my good friend, are firm and unanimous in their principles of republicanism, & there is no better proof of that than they love what you write and read it with delight… go on then doing with your pen what in other times was done with the sword; shew [sic] that reformation is more practicable by operating on the mind than on the body of man, and be assured that it has not a more sincere votary, nor you're a more ardent well-wisher than, Dear Sir Your friend & svt Th: Jefferson" (Sowerby 2826). Part I of Rights of Man was dedicated to George Washington and the first edition was to be published on his birthday, February 22, 1791, but publisher Joseph Johnson suppressed it because of intimidation by government agents. "Fearing the book police, and unnerved by the prospect of arrest and bankruptcy, Johnson suppressed the book on the very day of its scheduled publication. Alarmed by the prospect that the work would be stillborn, Paine reacted fast. He agreed to a deal with another publisher, J.S. Jordan on Fleet Street, and with the help of friends and a horse and cart delivered to him Johnson's printed, unbound sheets. Paine scurried around for the money to pay for the work… He then packed his trunk for Paris" (Keane, 304-5). Jordan took Johnson's unbound sheets of text and added a new title page with Jordan's imprint and a preface that Paine sent him from Paris. Jordan published his edition (the first edition, second issue) on March 16, 1791, and it sold out in hours. "Curiosity and word-of-mouth advertising kept sales brisk. Jordan had set a new edition in type [the stated "second edition," with changes to the text and different pagination]… and had it on the market three days after the first appeared. It sold out within a few hours" (Hawke, 223-4). "The book was a sensation, and at least eight editions were published by Jordan during 1791" (Gimbel-Yale 60).
Rights of Man, Part the Second, was first published on February 16, 1792, also by Jordan. "Jordan's press continued to work around the clock, and within the next two weeks another four printings came off the press. The brightest and most powerful political skyrocket in English history had been launched" (Keane, 327). "Not even Paine could have imagined… that Rights of Man was destined to become one of the best-selling books in the history of publishing… [it] broke every extant publishing record" (Grogan, 18)."While the first part of The Rights of Man was relatively mild… Part the Second fully developed his great political philosophy" (Gimbel-Yale 66).
The British government considered prosecuting Paine for sedition shortly after the publication of Part I, but decided against it at the time because "Paine had tempered argument and language so skillfully that it would be hard to make a charge of sedition stick in court. To prosecute would provide free advertising" (Hawke, 223-4). But in 1792, after the publication of the more incendiary Part II, the British government took action against Paine, his publishers, and booksellers. "Bookshops selling Rights of Man were visited and harassed by agents of the book police, and sometimes arrested, prosecuted, fined, or imprisoned" (Keane, 335-60). Jordan was arrested in May 1792 for publishing Part II and pleaded guilty. The government issued a summons for Paine to appear in court on charges of seditious libel, and he was forced to flee to France. "Paine was found guilty, declared an outlaw, and the Rights of Man contraband" (Gimbel-Yale, 425). Rights of Man
(Part I) with "Fourth Edition" stated on title page: issued very soon after the first edition: second issue, second full paragraph on page 10 with eight lines rather than nine (Gimbel-Paine, 89). With dedication to George Washington. Part the Second
with "The Second Edition" stated on title page, mixed issue containing the same uncorrected catchword "Anothe" (p. vii), and press figure 105-3, as in the first edition, but "CHAP. IV" corrected from "CAAP. IV" on page 59. With dedication to M. de La Fayette dated "London, Feb. 9, 1792." Part the Second
bound with rarely found half title, and with rarely found advertisement leaf bound between the two parts. Rights of Man
: ESTC T5866. See Gimbel-Paine, 89, 98. Howes P31. See Gimbel-Yale 59, 60. Goldsmiths 15024. Part the Second
: ESTC T5881. Gimbel-Paine, 104, Sowerby 2826. Howes P32. Lowndes IV:1761. See Goldsmiths 15486A.
Text clean and fine, joints and corners lightly rubbed, binding sound. A handsome copy.