The Rights of Man HTML version
Part II: Combining Principle And Practice
French Translator's Preface
THE work of which we offer a translation to the public has created the greatest sensation
in England. Paine, that man of freedom, who seems born to preach " Common Sense " to
the whole world with the same success as in America, explains in it to the people of
England the theory of the practice of the Rights of Man.
Owing to the prejudices that still govern that nation, the author has been obliged to
condescend to answer Mr. Burke. He has done so more especially in an extended preface
which is nothing but a piece of very tedious controversy, in which he shows himself very
sensitive to criticisms that do not really affect him. To translate it seemed an insult to the
free French people, and similar reasons have led the editors to suppress also a dedicatory
epistle addressed by Paine to Lafayette.
The French can no longer endure dedicatory epistles. A man should write privately to
those he esteems: when he publishes a book his thoughts should be offered to the public
alone. Paine, that uncorrupted friend of freedom, believed too in the sincerity of
Lafayette. So easy is it to deceive men of single-minded purpose! Bred at a distance from
courts, that austere American does not seem any more on his guard against the artful
ways and speech of courtiers than some Frenchmen who resemble him.