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Next as to the style. To compare with the letters of Junius we may take the speeches of Francis as prepared by himself for the press. Thus in one of them does Sir Philip advert to lawyers: “It belongs to the learning of these gen“tlemen to involve, and to their prudence not to decide....... “In the name of God and common sense what have we “gained by consulting these learned persons? It is really a “strange thing, but it is certainly true, that the learned “gentlemen on that side of the House, be the subject what “it may, always begin their speeches with a panegyric on “their own integrity. You expect learning and they give “you morals; you expect law and they give you ethics; you “ask them for bread and they give you a stone! . . . . . . . “Equality is their right. I allow it. But that they have any “just pretensions to a superior morality, to a pure and “elevated probity, to a frank, plain, simple, candid, un“refined integrity, beyond other men, is what I am not con“vinced of, and never will admit.” +
In another speech Sir Philip refers to Chatham as follows: “I hope it will not appear improper in me to say “that in the early part of my life I had the good fortune “to hold a place, very inconsiderable in itself, but imme“diately under the late Earl of Chatham. He descended “from his station to take notice of mine; and he honoured “me with repeated marks of his favour and protection. How “warmly in return I was attached to his person, and how I “have been grateful to his memory, those who know me “know. I admired him as a great, illustrious, faulty, hu“man being, whose character, like all the noblest works of “human composition, should be determined by its excel“lencies, not by its defects.” Sir Philip adds elsewhere: “But he is dead, and has left nothing in this world that re“sembles him!”*— these last words being designed for a cruel stab against the policy and character of Mr. Pitt. It seems to me that even the most cursory reader cannot peruse
* Speech in the House of Commons, March 12. 1788. * Speech of July 26, 1784, and February 12, 1787.
1769. SIR PHILIP FRANCIS. 233
these extracts, – and many more besides that might be given, – without feeling in the strongest manner their complete family likeness, both in sentiment and in style, with parallel passages of Junius. Thirdly, there are several points in the position of Junius that are best elucidated by referring to the position of Francis at that time. Thus it is clear from several passages that Junius was anxious to forbear from any attack upon Lord Holland; and Lord Holland it will be remembered was Francis's first patron. Thus again it appears that Junius attended the House of Lords in 1770 and took some notes of Lord Chatham's speeches; and we find that many years afterwards several of Lord Chatham's speeches in that very Session were printed by Mr. Almon from the notes that Sir Philip had supplied. — But above all, how else can we sufficiently explain the passionate resentment which the man in the mask betrays at the promotion of Mr. Chamier? How else account for those most rancorous and numerous letters which he poured forth on so trifling a question during the whole spring of 1772, desiring the printer at the same time not to allow it to be known that these letters came from the same hand as Junius? — Let it also be observed how well the dates of the last letters agree with the dates in the career of Francis, – their interruption with his Continental tour, – their cessation with his Indian appointment. The strongest perhaps and most convincing of all the arguments in support of Francis still remains to be given. It has often been urged as an argument upon the other side that Junius in February 1769 put with much solemnity a question to Sir William Draper, whether he did not take a certain oath on receiving his half-pay, which question Sir William was able to answer with a triumphant negative. How, it was asked, could such a blunderhave proceeded from one of the War-Office Clerks? But when Mr. Macaulay was himself Secretary at War he made some inquiries on the subject in his department, eliciting in the clearest manner that this mistake was likely to be made by some person closely connected with the English War-Office, and by no person besides. * It may be asked, however, why, Sir Philip being the author of Junius and surviving till 1818, he did not in his later years avow his secret, and claim his meed of literary fame. But perhaps he may have felt that in adding to his literary fame he should lose at least as much in moral estimation. Of his style in Junius, a style which had so powerfully and so permanently stirred the nation, he might be justly proud; of his venom and injustice, and of the high office accepted from the very hands that he most loathed, he must sometimes at least have been ashamed. Forward as he was moreover in the Whig politics of the day, he was throughout his later years living on familiar terms with many of the nearest kinsmen of those whom he had anonymously slandered. The Duke of Grafton himself did not die till 1811. The grandsons of the Duke of Bedford, and the sons of George the Third, one of these a zealous Whig, were still alive in 1818. Such reasons sufficiently explain Sir Philip's desire to retain the mask. But we learn from his widow in her interesting letter to Lord Campbell, that though Sir Philip did not wholly drop the mask even to herself, it was then of the lightest texture and meant to be seen through.* Strong as this, the “Franciscan,” theory appears when separately viewed, it becomes, I think, far stronger still when compared with the other claims that have been urged. In no other can many strained inferences and many gratuitous assumptions fail to be observed. In no other do the feelings and the circumstances which must be ascribed to Junius, or the dates applying to the cessation of his letters, admit on all points, or even on most points, of simple expla
* The letter of Mr. Macaulay on this subject dated January 3. 1852, and hitherto unpublished, will, through his kind permission, be found in the Appendix to the present edition of this volume. (1853.) ** The letter of Lady Francis is printed in the Lives of the Chancellors, vol. vi. p. 344. On this point, as on many others, the public is greatly indebted to Lord Campbell's judicious spirit of inquiry.
1769. JOHN WILRES. 235
mations from the theory adduced. Even the claim on behalf of Lord George Sackville, which at first sight has dazzled many acute observers, will not, as I conceive, endure the light of a close and critical examination.* The Session of 1769 (for here I resume my course of narrative) having begun in the previous November continued until May. Two questions mainly engrossed its time; the case of Wilkes and the news from North America. In the former as in the latter the Government had displayed a grievous want of foresight and discretion. Just before the meeting of Parliament one of the Ministers asked another how the House of Commons ought to deal with the convict Knight of the Shire; and the answer was only: “I do not know!”** The Duke of Grafton indeed makes no scruple of owning in his Memoirs that at the first Cabinet held upon this subject not one of its Members, not even the Lord Chancellor, contemplated or anticipated the difficulties which so soon afterwards arose. Wilkes himself now made the first move in the game by presenting to the House through the hands of his friend Sir Joseph Mawbey, Member for Southwark, a petition complaining of his past grievances and present imprisonment. Several gentlemen cried out against this imprisonment as a breach of privilege. Other gentlemen cried out no less against his election, and asked for his expulsion. But before this last, as the main point, was brought forward for debate, several new incidents occurred further to perplex the case. — In the previous April Lord Weymouth as Secretary of State had addressed a letter to the Surrey magistrates at Lambeth advising them to be on their guard against riots and tumults, and to make early application if needful for a military force. Wilkes having now obtained a * “In our conviction the weight of suspicion still preponderates to“wards Lord George Sackville.” (See the article ascribed to Mr. Croker in the Quarterly Review, No. cxxxi. p. 256. June 1840.) On the other hand, there will be found in the Appendix to my present volume a long and able letter from Sir James Mackintosh which I have had the good fortune to obtain, giving most decisive reasons, as they seem to me, against
Lord George's claim.
copy of this letter published it with a comment of his own, but without his name; in this he called it a “hellish project” tending to a “horrid massacre.” Lord Weymouth complained to the House of Lords of a breach of privilege. By means of a Conference the main question was transferred to the House of Commons, and everal witnesses were summoned for examination. Baldwin, the printer, acknowledged that he had received the letter from Wilkes. Wilkes was brought to the Bar in custody, and was asked what defence he could make to the charge; when he boldly said that he did not deny the publication, but rather gloried in having brought to light that “bloody scroll.” By a large majority the House of Commons determined that Wilkes's comment on Lord Weymouth was an “insolent “libel.” He had also made a complaint against Lord Mansfield touching some points in a Writ of Error which he had moved, and this complaint the House of Commons no less readily voted to be a “groundless aspersion.” — Thus unworthily had the House of Commons come to bandy invectives with a single man! Thus lavish had they grown of their own and the public's leisure! Well might Captain Phipps exclaim on one occasion: “Ever since the opening of “the Session we have been putting off affairs of the greatest “consequence; and the time of Parliament has been taken “up — in what?— in examining horse-waterers and newspaper-jackals!” ” During these contests with the House of Commons, and in fact by means of them, the popularity of Wilkes in the City rose higher and higher. In January he was chosen Adlerman of the Ward of Farringdon Without, polling thirteen hundred out of fifteen hundred votes. And thus did Wilkes become by right of office a magistrate of the metropolis while still denounced by the law as a criminal, and confined by the Government as a prisoner. These were by no means the only incidents that arose collaterally in the case of Wilkes, but to recount them all in * Cavendish Debates, vol. i. p. 111.