To The Sheriff of the County of Sussex





 SIR: I have seen in the Lewes newspapers, of June twenty-fifth, an   
 advertisement, signed by sundry persons, and also by the sheriff, for
 holding a meeting at the Town-hall of Lewes, for the purpose, as the 
 advertisement states, of presenting an address on the late Proclamation  
 for suppressing writings, books, etc. And as I conceive that a certain   
 publication of mine, entitled "Rights of Man," in which, among other 
 things, the enormous increase of taxes, placemen, and pensioners, is 
 shown to be unnecessary and oppressive, is the particular writing    
 alluded to in the said publication; I request the sheriff, or in his 
 absence, who- ever shall preside at the meeting, or any other person, to 
 read this letter publicly to the company who shall assemble in       
 consequence of that advertisement.

 GENTLEMEN-It is now upwards of eighteen years since I was a resident 
 inhabitant of the town of Lewes. My situation among you, as an officer   
 of the revenue, for more than six years, enabled me to see into the  
 numerous and various distresses which the weight of taxes even at that   
 time of day occasioned; and feeling, as I then did, and as it is natural 
 for me to do, for the hard condition of others, it is with pleasure I
 can declare, and every person then under my survey, and now living, can  
 witness, the exceeding candor, and even tenderness, with which that part 
 of the duty that fell to my share was executed. The name of Thomas Paine 
 is not to be found in the records of the Lewes' justices, in any one act 
 of contention with, or severity of any kind whatever toward, the persons 
 whom he surveyed, either in the town, or in the country; of this, Mr.
 Fuller and Mr. Shelley, who will probably attend the meeting, can, if
 they please, give full testimony. It is, however, not in their power to  
 contradict it.

 Having thus indulged myself in recollecting a place where I formerly 
 had, and even now have, many friends, rich and poor, and most probably   
 some enemies, I proceed to the more important purport of my letter.

 Since my departure from Lewes, fortune or providence has thrown me into  
 a line of action, which my first setting out into life could not     
 possibly have suggested to me.

 I have seen the fine and fertile country of America ravaged and deluged  
 in blood, and the taxes of England enormously increased and multiplied   
 in consequence thereof; and this, in a great measure, by the instigation 
 of the same class of placemen, pensioners, and court dependents, who are 
 now promoting addresses throughout England, on the present           
 unintelligible Proclamation.

 I have also seen a system of government rise up in that country, free
 from corruption, and now administered over an extent of territory ten
 times as large as England, for less expense than the pensions alone in   
 England amount to; and under which more freedom is enjoyed, arid a more  
 happy state of society is preserved, and a more general prosperity is
 promoted, than under any other system of government now existing in the  
 world. Knowing, as I do, the things I now declare, I should reproach 
 myself with want of duty and affection to mankind, were I not in the 
 most undismayed manner to publish them, as it were, on the house-tops,   
 for the good of others.

 Having thus glanced at what has passed within my knowledge since my  
 leaving Lewes, I come to the subject more immediately before the meeting 
 now present.

 Mr. Edmund Burke, who, as I shall show, in a future publication, has 
 lived a concealed pensioner, at the expense of the public of fifteen 
 hundred pounds per annum, for about ten years last past, published a 
 book the winter before last, in open violation of the principles of  
 liberty, and for which he was applauded by that class of men who are now 
 promoting addresses. Soon after his book appeared, I published the first 
 part of the work, entitled "Rights of Man," as an answer thereto,    
 and had the happiness of receiving the public thanks of several bodies   
 of men, and of numerous individuals of the best character, of every  
 denomination in religion, and of every rank in life-placemen and     
 pensioners excepted.

 In February last, I published the second part of "Rights of Man," and as 
 it met with still greater approbation from the true friends of national  
 freedom, and went deeper into the system of government, and exposed the  
 abuses of it, more than had been done in the first part, it consequently 
 excited an alarm among all those, who, insensible of the burden of taxes 
 which the general mass of the people sustain, are living in luxury and   
 indolence, and hunting after court preferments, sinecure places, and 
 pensions, either for themselves, or for their family connections.

 I have shown in that work, that the taxes may be reduced at least six
 millions, and even then the expenses of government in England would be   
 twenty times greater than they are in the country I have already spoken  
 of. That taxes may be entirely taken off from the poor, by remitting to  
 them in money at the rate of between three and four pounds per head per  
 annum, for the education and bringing up of the children of the poor 
 families, who are computed at one third of the whole nation, and six 
 pounds per annum to all poor persons, decayed tradesmen, or others, from 
 the age of fifty until sixty, and ten pounds per annum from after sixty. 
 And that in consequence of this allowance, to be paid out of the surplus 
 taxes, the poor-rates would become unnecessary, and that it is better to 
 apply the surplus taxes to these beneficent purposes, than to waste them 
 on idle and profligate courtiers, placemen and pensioners.

 These, gentlemen, are a part of the plans and principles contained in
 the work, which this meeting is now called upon, in an indirect manner,  
 to vote an address against, and brand with the name of wicked and    

 Gentlemen, I have now stated to you such matters as appear necessary to  
 me to offer to the consideration of the meeting. I have no other     
 interest in what I am doing, nor in writing you this letter, than the
 interest of the heart. I consider the proposed address as calculated to  
 give countenance to placemen, pensioners, enormous taxation and      
 corruption. Many of you will recollect that, while I resided among you,  
 there was not a man more firm and open in supporting the principles of   
 liberty than myself, and I still pursue, and ever will, the same path.

 I have, gentlemen, only one request to make, which is-that those who 
 have called the meeting will speak out, and say, whether in the address  
 they are going to present against publications, which the proclamation   
 calls wicked, they mean the work entitled "Rights of Man," or whether
 they do not?

 I am, Gentlemen,

 With sincere wishes for your happiness,

 Your friend and servant,