To The Sheriff of the County of Sussex

 TO THE SHERIFF OF THE COUNTY OF SUSSEX                               
                                                                          
     OR THE GENTLEMAN WHO SHALL PRESIDE AT THE MEETING TO BE HELD         
                                                                          
     AT LEWES, JULY FOURTH                                                
                                                                          
     DATED AT LONDON, JUNE 30, 1792.                                      
                                                                          
     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    
     seditious.                                                           
                                                                          
     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,                                             
                                                                          
     THOMAS PAINE.