PAINE, Thomas Political philosopher. Autograph letter signed ("Thomas Paine") to Dr. [Joseph] Johnson in Derby; Paris, 24 April . 2 pages, 4to, 233 x 189mm (96 x 76in.), integral address leaf with autograph panel and postmarks. In exceptionally fine condition.
PAINE'S ACCOUNT OF HIS ARREST AND IMPRISONMENT IN PARIS: "IT WAS A SANGUINARY SCENE"
During the Reign of Terror (1793-94) in Paris, Thomas Paine became a member of the Convention, served on a Constitutional Committee, but partly due to menoeuvers by the U.S. Minister, Gouverneur Morris, Paine was denounced, imprisoned and narrowly escaped the guillotine. Paine was released due to the direct intervention of James Monroe, then Minister to France. Here, Paine writes to his old friend Johnson, who had previously escaped imprisonment by fleeing France: "I have enquired often after you, and with great anxiety...It was a sanguinary scene when you fortunately left Paris, but infinitely worse afterwards...Two days after you were gone a guard came...to take you...Thank God you were out of their reach...On the 30 of December they carried me to the Luxembourg where I remained till the 4 of November, exposed every hour to a worse fate. I attribute my preservation to a fever...which confined me to my bed till after the fall of Robespierre, and the arrival of Mr [James] Monroe the new American minister an affectionate friend of mine." He describes how "..The surgeon...advised...that it is nature that must perform the cure. I took his advice and now...after passing through several years of storms, dangers, and difficulties I enjoy an excellent state of health and a happy mind." He concludes: "York tells me....you intend coming to France. I am preparing to set off for America and as I should rejoice to see you before I depart, I wish you would hasten your journey."
Joseph Johnson, a publisher, had underaken the publication of the first part of Paine's Rights of Man (1790), but became fearful of prosecution and turned over the project to another publisher, Jordan.