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was soon disgusted with the modest practice of reading the manuscript to my friends. Of such friends some will praise from politeness, and some will criticise from vanity. The author himself is the best judge of his own performance; no one has so deeply meditated on the subject; no one is so sincerely interested in the event. . . .
So flexible is the title of my History, that the final æra might be fixed at my own choice; and I long hesitated whether I should be content with the three volumes, the fall of the Western empire, which fulfilled my first engagement with the public. In this interval of suspense, nearly a twelvemonth, I returned by a natural impulse to the Greek authors of antiquity; I read with new pleasure the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Histories of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, a large portion of the tragic and comic theatre of Athens, and many interesting dialogues of the Socratic school. Yet in the luxury of freedom I began to wish for the daily task, the active pursuit, which gave a value to every book, and an object to every inquiry: the preface of a new edition announced my design, and I dropped without reluctance from the age of Plato to that of Justinian. The original texts of Procopius and Agathias supplied the events and even the characters of his reign: but a laborious winter was devoted to the Codes, the Pandects, and the modern interpreters, before I presumed to form an abstract of the civil law. My skill was improved by practice, my diligence perhaps was quickened by the loss of office; and, excepting the last chapter, I had finished the fourth volume before I sought a retreat on the banks of the Leman Lake....
It was not till after many designs, and many trials, that I preferred, as I still prefer, the method of grouping my picture by nations; and the seeming neglect of chronological order is surely compensated by the superior merits of
interest and perspicuity. The style of the first volume is, in my opinion, somewhat crude and elaborate; in the second and third it is ripened into ease, correctness, and numbers; but in the three last I may have been seduced by the facility of my pen, and the constant habit of speaking one language and writing another may have infused some mixture of Gallic idioms. Happily for my eyes, I have always closed my studies with the day, and commonly with the morning; and a long, but temperate, labour has been accomplished, without fatiguing either the mind or body; but when I computed the remainder of my time and my task, it was apparent that, according to the season of publication, the delay of a month would be productive of that of a year. I was now straining for the goal, and in the last winter many evenings were borrowed from the social pleasures of Lausanne. I could now wish that a pause, an interval, had been allowed for a serious revisal.
I have presumed to mark the moment of conception: I shall now commemorate the hour of my final deliverance. It was on the day, or rather night, of the 27th of June 1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve, that I wrote the last lines of the last page, in a summer-house in my garden. After laying down my pen, I took several turns in a berceau, or covered walk of acacias, which commands a prospect of the country, the lake, and the mountains. The air was temperate, the sky was serene, the silver orb of the moon was reflected from the waters, and all nature was silent. I will not dissemble the first emotions of joy on recovery of my freedom, and, perhaps, the establishment of my fame. But my pride was soon humbled, and a sober melancholy was spread over my mind, by the idea that I had taken an everlasting leave of an old and agreeable companion, and that whatsoever might be the future date of my History, the life of
the historian must be short and precarious. I will add two facts, which have seldom occurred in the composition of six, or at least of five, quartos. 1. My first rough manuscript, without any intermediate copy, has been sent to the press. 2. Not a sheet has been seen by any human eyes, excepting those of the author and the printer: the faults and the merits are exclusively my own.-Memoirs of my Life and Writings.
SIR PHILIP FRANCIS-JUNIUS.'
THE letters of Junius appeared in the Public Advertizer at intervals from 1767 to 1772. The authorship of the Letters is not certainly known. It has been ascribed to at least forty or fifty distinguished men, among others to Burke, Lyttleton, and Gibbon. The general belief among competent judges appears now to be that the Letters were written by Sir Philip Francis. This belief rests on circumstantial evidence-the correspondence of dates and incidents in the life of Francis with dates and incidents in the appearance of the Letters—on the agreement of style and sentiment, and on minute resemblances of spelling and punctuation. The knowledge of details and insight into the interior movement of different departments of the Government displayed by Junius were such as Francis almost alone must have possessed, while he avowedly shared the friendships and antipathies, and indulged in the strongly personal animosities and resentments expressed by Junius.
None of Francis' acknowledged publications are so highly finished as the Letters, which were polished to the utmost brilliancy, and by graces of style, unrivalled sarcasm, terse expression, and happy imagery brought Junius' name to prominence and popularity. That Francis never acknowledged the authorship may be accounted for by the fact that this admission would have implicated others, and that he himself moved among the persons whom he attacked, and mixed in the society which he so severely aspersed. Towards the close of his life he is said to have indirectly admitted the authorship of the Letters within his own family.
Francis was born in 1740, and died in 1818. He was for some years a clerk in the War Office, and was afterwards appointed a member of the Supreme Council at Calcutta, during the governorship of Warren Hastings, with whom he was engaged in constant feuds, and whose prosecution he actively promoted.
The Letters of Junius were the most famous political writings of their day, and now that many of the persons and topics with which they deal are forgotten, retain their reputation on account of their style.
The Letters are mainly onslaughts on the personal as well as the public character of the statesmen against whom they are directed. Their tone of bitter and sarcastic invective gains additional force from the constant insinuation that the writer reserves worse accusations to be brought against his victims at some future time.
To a modern reader the effect of the invective is injured by its personal character, but this did not detract from its influence upon the contemporaries of Junius. They felt that his attacks were on the whole just, and that their violence was excused by the circumstances of the time. It was a period of national disaster and of political corruption. When the public good was sacrificed to the meanest private objects, it was legitimate to assail the private life of political leaders. As politics had become a matter of personal intrigue, a writer on public affairs had a justification which he does not now possèss for the use of personalities. The judgment formed by Junius of the statesmen of his day has been confirmed by the verdict of posterity. His attacks, though sometimes unjust to individuals, were a protest against real and gross abuses, and gave vent to a feeling of public indignation which was in that age denied any other expression.
1. From a Letter to the Duke of Grafton.
IF nature had given you an understanding qualified to keep pace with the wishes and principles of your heart, she