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

would have made you, perhaps, the most formidable minister that ever was employed, under a limited monarch, to accomplish the ruin of a free people. When neither the feelings of shame, the reproaches of conscience, nor the dread of punishment, form any bar to the designs of a minister, the people would have too much reason to lament their condition, if they did not find some resource in the weakness of his understanding. We owe it to the bounty of Providence, that the completest depravity of the heart is sometimes strangely united with a confusion of the mind, which counteracts the most favourite principles, and makes the same man treacherous without art, and a hypocrite without deceiving. The measures, for instance, in which your Grace's activity has been chiefly exerted, as they were adopted without skill, should have been conducted with more than common dexterity. But truly, my Lord, the execution has been as gross as the design. By one decisive step, you have defeated all the arts of writing. You have fairly confounded the intrigues of opposition, and silenced the clamours of faction. A dark ambiguous system might require and furnish the materials of ingenious illustration; and, in doubtful measures, the virulent exaggeration of party must be employed, to rouse and engage the passions of the people. You have now brought the merits of your administration to an issue, on which every Englishman, of the narrowest capacity, may determine for himself. It is not an alarm to the passions, but a calm appeal to the judgment of the people, upon their own most essential interests. A more experienced minister would not have hazarded a direct invasion of the first principles of the constitution, before he had made some progress in subduing the spirit of the people. With such a cause as yours, my Lord, it is not sufficient that you have the court at your devotion, unless you can find

means to corrupt or intimidate the jury. The collective body of the people form that jury, and from their decision there is but one appeal.

Whether you have talents to support you, at a crisis of such difficulty and danger, should long since have been considered. Judging truly of your disposition, you have perhaps mistaken the extent of your capacity. Good faith and folly have so long been received for synonimous terms, that the reverse of the proposition has grown into credit, and every villain fancies himself a man of abilities. It is the apprehension of your friends, my Lord, that you have drawn some hasty conclusion of this sort, and that a partial reliance upon your moral character has betrayed you beyond the depth of your understanding. You have now carried things too far to retreat. You have plainly declared to the people what they are to expect from the continuance of your administration. It is time for your Grace to consider what you also may expect in return from their spirit and their


With what force, my Lord, with what protection are you prepared to meet the united detestation of the people of England? The city of London has given a generous example to the kingdom, in what manner a king of this country ought to be addressed; and I fancy, my lord, it is not yet in your courage to stand between your Sovereign and the addresses of his subjects. The injuries you have done this country are such as demand not only redress, but vengeance. In vain shall you look for protection to that venal vote, which you have already paid for another must be purchased; and to save a minister, the House of Commons must declare themselves not only independent of their constituents, but the determined enemies of the constitution. Consider, my Lord, whether this be an extremity to which their fears will permit

them to advance; or, if their protection should fail you, how far you are authorized to rely upon the sincerity of those smiles, which a pious court lavishes without reluctance upon a libertine by profession. It is not, indeed, the least of the thousand contradictions which attend you, that a man, marked to the world by the grossest violation of all ceremony and decorum, should be the first servant of a court, in which prayers are morality, and kneeling is religion. Trust not too far to appearances, by which your predecessors have been deceived, though they have not been injured. Even the best of princes may at last discover, that this is a contention, in which everything may be lost, but nothing can be gained; and as you became minister by accident, were adopted without choice, trusted without confidence, and continued without favour, be assured that, whenever an occasion presses, you will be discarded without even the forms of regret. You will then have reason to be thankful, if you are permitted to retire to that seat of learning, which in contemplation of the system of your life, the comparative purity of your manners with those of their high steward, and a thousand other recommending circumstances, has chosen you to encourage the growing virtue of their youth, and to preside over their education. Whenever the spirit of distributing prebends and bishoprics shall have departed from you, you will find that learned seminary perfectly recovered from the delirium of an installation, and, what in truth it ought to be, once more a peaceful scene of slumber and thoughtless meditation. The venerable tutors of the university will no longer distress your modesty, by proposing you for a pattern to their pupils. The learned dulness of declamation will be silent; and even the venal muse, though happiest in fiction, will forget your virtues. Yet, for the benefit of the succeeding age, I could wish that your retreat might be deferred, until your morals

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