Whole Proceedings on the Trial Against Thomas Paine

Thomas PAINE

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Item#: 106896 price:$500.00

“GOVERNMENT, IN ITS OWN ESTIMATION, HAS BEEN A SYSTEM OF PERFECTION; BUT A FREE PRESS HAS EXAMINED AND DETECTED ITS ERRORS… AND THEREFORE, UNDER THE BANNERS OF THAT FREEDOM, TODAY I STAND UP TO DEFEND THOMAS PAINE”

(PAINE, Thomas). The Whole Proceedings on the Trial of an Information Exhibited ex Officio by the King's Attorney-General Against Thomas Paine. Dublin: E. Lynch, et al., 1793. Octavo, disbound; pp. [2], 129. $500.

First Dublin edition of the court transcript to Thomas Paine’s 1792 British trial for seditious libel, issued the same year as both the first American and English editions of the same year.

Paine's Rights of Man is "the clearest of all expositions of the basic principles of democracy" (PMM 241). Here, recording one of history's most compelling legal battles, is the transcript of the 1792 British prosecution of Thomas Paine, a battle that began with the printing of the second part of Rights of Man. Within months, the government issued a Royal Proclamation aimed at suppressing Paine's writings and that same day, he was charged with seditious libel. "Friends like William Blake advised him to flee the country: 'You must not go home, or you are a dead man'" (Keane, 337, 343). Heeding the advice, Paine escaped to France and the trial began in absentia. With Paine absent, his lawyer Thomas Erskine offered an eloquent defense of his friend and the rights of a free press. But a hand-picked jury quickly returned the verdict of guilty and "Paine was now an outlaw. Should he ever set foot in England again, he could be imprisoned for life or even executed" (Fruchtman, 290). The court record was recorded verbatim by Joseph Gurney whose earlier transcripts for the House of Commons resulted in the "first public acknowledgement of the verbal accuracy of shorthand" in any country (DNB). Gimbel, 78. Sabin 96918.

Text uniformly toned, scattered foxing. A very good copy.

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