From the article on Thomas Paine in the October 16th issue of the New Yorker
The first part of the "Rights of Man" sold fifty thousand copies in just three months. The second part was outsold only by the Bible. But British conservatives didn't want to follow France, especially as the news from Paris became more gruesome. Paine was charged with seditious libel, and everywhere his ideas were suppressed and his followers persecuted. "I am for equality. Why, no kings!" one Londoner shouted in a coffeehouse, and was promptly sent to prison for a year and a half. Meanwhile, William Pitt's government hired hack writers to conduct a smear campaign in which it was asserted, among other things, that Paine had committed fraud, defrauded his creditors, caused his first wife's death by beating her while she was pregnant, and abused his second wife almost as badly, except that she wasn't really his wife, because he never consummated that marriage, preferring to have sex with cats. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, eat your hearts out.