Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

most trivial presumptive circumstances, and to be capable of being invalidated in a greater variety of ways than the pretensions of almost any other of the claimants. We think this examination, perhaps, the best written part of the preliminary essay. It is impossible, however, to abridge it; and we shall content ourselves with transcribing one page which recapitulates a considerable part of the argument, in the form of showing what answer could have been made by the late Mr. Woodfall if he had chosen, to an impertinent personal address of Almon, one of the assertors of Boyd's claims, assuming that Mr. Woodfall could produce no negative evidence. To a challenge made in so uncivil a manner no reply was made.

C a

"Woodfall well knew the handwritings of both Junius and Boyd, and was in possession of many copies of both; and knowing them he well knew they were different. He well knew that Junius was a man directly implicated in the circle of the court, and immediately privy to its most secret intrigues: and that Boyd was very differently situated, and that whatever information he collected was by circuitous channels alone; Junius he knew to be a man of affluence considerably superior to his own wants, refusing remunerations to which he was entitled, and offering reimbursements to those who suffered on his account; Boyd to be labouring under great pecuniary difficulties, and ready to accept whatever was offered him; or, in the language of Mr. Almon, broken gentleman without a guinca in his pocket.' Junius he knew to be a man of considerably more than his own age, who, from a long and matured experience of the world, was entitled to read him lessons in moral and prudential philosophy; Boyd to be at the same time a very young man, who had not even reached his majority, totally without plan, and almost without experience of any kind, who, in the prospect of divulging himself to Woodfall, could not possibly have written to him, After a long experience of the world, I affirm before God, I never knew a rogue who was not unhappy.' Boyd he knew to be an imitator and copyist of Junius; Junius to be no copyist of any man, and least of all of himself. Junius he knew to be a decided mixt-monarchy man, who opposed the ministry upon constitutional principles; Boyd to be a wild, random republican, who opposed them upon revolutionary views; Junius to be a writer who could not have adopted the signature of Democrates or Democraticus; Boyd a writer who could, and, we are told, did so, in perfect uniformity with his political creed. Woodfall, it is true, did not pretend to know Junius personally; but from his handwriting, his style of composition, age, politics, rank in life, and pecuniary affluence, he was perfectly assured that Junius could not be Boyd." Preliminary Essay, p. 152.

[ocr errors]

It appears that Boyd was in a kind of retreat in Ireland, in consequence of pecuniary distress and the fear of being arrested, at the very time that Junius refused to receive any share of the profits which had arisen from the sale of his collected letters

The imputation of the letters to Mr. Dunning is very briefly discussed and dismissed. It is readily admitted there is a greater aggregate of presumptions in his favour. "His age, and rank in life, his talents and learning, his brilliant wit, and sarcastic habit, his common residence during the period in question, his political principles, attachments and antipathies," would concur to mark him as the man. But the editor is of opinion a few opposing facts are decisive. He thinks credit is due to the veracity of such a person as Junius must have been, when he almost gratuitously made the positive declaration, in his preface to the letters, "I am no lawyer by profession." And this declaration is corroborated by several passages in his correspondence with Woodfall and Wilkes. To the latter he complains of the heavy disadvantage, imposed by the secret of his personality, of being debarred from "consulting the learned," on legal or constitutional points. In another letter he



"The constitutional argument is obvious; I wish you to point out to me where you think the force of the formal legal argument lies. pursuing such inquiries I lie under a singular disadvantage. Not venturing to consult those who are qualified to inform me, I am forced to collect every thing from books, or common conversation. The pains I took with that paper upon privilege, were greater than I can express to you. Yet, after I had blinded myself with poring over journals, debates, and parliamentary history, I was at last obliged to hazard a bold assertion, which I am now convinced is true, (as I really then thought it,) because it has not been disproved or disputed."

Toward the conclusion of the same long letter, there is a remarkable passage, which has the appearance of being prompted by truth and feeling; which at any rate seems, where it occurs, too little called for to be, with any sort of fairness, accounted falsehood and affectation. Having employed a particular word in the technical sense of law, he says, "Though I use the terms of art, do not injure me so much as to suspect I am a lawyer.—I had as lief be a Scotchman."

And then, too, when it is recollected that Dunning, who was solicitor-general at the time when these letters first appeared, had the character of "high unblemished honour, and high independent principles," the editor very reasonably pronounces that it "cannot be supposed he would have vilified the king while one of the king's confidential servants and counsellors." He might have added, that if the letters of Junius, both public and private, can be admitted to bear decisive evidence to any one quality in the moral temperament of the writer, it is an utter detestation of meanness and self-interested duplicity. We should think, besides, if it were allowable to hazard a judgment from the very slight specimens VOL. II. New Series.


we may have seen of Dunning's style, (so brilliantly described by Sir William Jones,) that a very considerable difference would have been apparent between compositions from his pen and these famous letters. We should have expected in a work from him more labour of subtle refinement—more artifice, and perhaps we may say quaint peculiarity of expression-a greater frequency of ingenious sparkles-less of what may be at least comparatively denominated a plain direct style of writing-a less sparingness, as if in disdain, of rhetorical device and ornament-a less uniformly sustained tone of bold austerity, and a much less decided clearness, in topics and phraseology, of any cast and colour of his profession. -It may be noticed here also that there is no sort of resemblance between the handwritings of Dunning and Junius.

But little having been attempted in support of any pretensions of Mr. Flood, the celebrated Irish orator, it is enough to say that the editor's argument of negation is equally brief and conclusive.

It is probable that but few of the persons inquisitive about this secret have now any suspicion of Burke. This suspicion, however, appears to have prevailed very extensively at the time the letters appeared; and the editor very properly entertains and examines the question. We think he proves the suspicion to be entirely devoid of probability.

"Burke could not have written in the style of Junius, which was precisely the reverse of his own; nor could he have consented to have disparaged his own talents in the manner in which Junius has disparaged them, in his letter to the printer of the Public Advertiser, Oct. 5, 1771. Independently of which, he denied that he was the author of these letters, expressly and satisfactorily to Sir William Draper, who purposely interrogated him upon the subject; the truth of which denial is, moreover, corroborated by the testimony of the late Mr. Woodfall, who repeatedly declared that neither Hamilton nor Burke was the writer of these compositions."—"If, however, there should be readers so inflexible as still to believe that Mr. Burke was the real writer of the letters, and that his denial of the fact to Sir W. Draper was only wrung from him under the influence of fear, it will be sufficient to satisfy even such readers to show that the system of politics of the one was in direct opposition to that of the other on a variety of the most important points. Burke was a decided partisan of Lord Rockingham, and continued so during the whole of that nobleman's life: Junius, on

The passage here referred to is comprised in one line. Junius has been representing, in a tone of moderation somewhat unusual to him, how very desirable it is that the disagreement and mutual repulsion of political men should not have the effect of depriving a good cause of the services which they might separately contribute to it, each in his own way; and having specified a few of the services which might be obtained, and should be accepted from several individuals of that time, he says, "I willingly accept a sarcasm from Colonel Barre, and a simile from Mr. Burke." To any reader of Junius is quite unnecessary to observe that from him this was an expression of very pointed depreciation.


the contrary, was as decided a friend to Mr. George Grenville. was an antagonist to the other on the great subject of the American Stamp Act. Junius was a warm and powerful advocate for triennial parliaments: Burke an inveterate enemy to them. To which the editor may be allowed to add, that while Mr. Burke, in correcting his manuscripts for the press, and revising them in their passage through it, is notorious for the numerous alterations he was perpetually making, the copy with which the late Mr. Woodfall was furnished by Junius for the genuine edition of his letters contained very few amendments of any kind."

Another circumstance is mentioned by the editor as almost sufficient of itself, in the absence of all other evidence, to put an end to all doubt.

"the prosecution which Mr. Burke instituted against Mr. Woodfall, the printer of the Public Advertiser, and conducted with the utmost acrimony, for a paper deemed libellous that appeared in this journal in the course of 1783. Considerable interest was made with Mr. Burke to induce him to drop this prosecution, in different stages of its progress, but he was inexorable. The cause was tried at Guildhall, July 15, 1784, and a verdict of a hundred pounds damages obtained against the printer; the whole of which was paid to the prosecutor. It is morally impossible that Junius could have acted in this manner; every anecdote in the preceding sketch of his public life forbids the belief that he


We are persuaded this will be the opinion of almost every reader of the private letters to Woodfall, which carry, in the most unaffected manner, so many indications of a respectful kindness, and of grateful approbation of the printer's courage and discretion; such proofs of concern for his safety, such marks of confidence in communicating information relative to secrets of state and the characters of great personages, when the communication could be useful in explaining the purpose of Junius, or regulating the conduct of the publisher; in short, so pleasing an appearance of something approaching a personal friendship between the two strangers, accompanied all the while by the involuntary signs of an exceedingly high-toned and independent character in the writer-that there is no believing this printer, maintaining, too, as he appears to have done, a profound respect and an inviolable discretion towards the mysterious author, should ever meet this lofty spirit on the inimical and sordid ground of prosecution and pecuniary damages. The last in the list of suspected persons is Lord George Sackville. The brief statement of probabilities with respect to him is miserably unsatisfactory; and the more so as it is apparent the writer does not choose to say all he could say on the question; whether from an idea that the imposing dignity of Junius will be

lessened in proportion to the dissipation in any degree of the shade of mystery that surrounds him, or from a sort of coquettish dispo sition that wishes to be courted for further explanations, we pretend not to say. We may as well transcribe the little that is vouchsafed on the subject, at the same time professing ourselves ready to receive with all due sense of obligation any further information which he may be coaxed or provoked to communicate ;— we say provoked, for undoubtedly his being flatly told that he has no more to communicate, would be the most likely expedient to make him disclose any thing he may have chosen yet to withhold.

"Let us proceed to the pretensions that have been offered on the part of Lord George Sackville. The evidence is somewhat indecisive even to the present hour. Sir W. Draper divided his suspicions between this nobleman and Mr. Burke, and upon the personal and unequivocal denial of the latter, he transferred them entirely to the former and that Sir William was not the only person who suspected his lordship even from the first, is evident from the private letter of Junius, which asserts that Swinney had actually called on Lord Sackville, and taxed him with being Junius, to his face. This letter is, in fact, one of the most curious of the whole collection: if written by Lord G. Sackville, it settles the point at once; and, if not written by him, presupposes an acquaintance with his lordship's family, his sentiments and his connexions, so intimate as to excite no small degree of astonishment. Junius was informed of Swinney's having called upon Lord George a few hours after his call, and he knew that before this time he had never spoken to him in his life. It is certain, then, that Lord G. Sackville was early and generally suspected; that Junius knew him to be suspected, without denying (as in the case of the author of "The Whig," &c.) that he was suspected wrongfully; [justly;] and that this nobleman, if not Junius himself, must have been in habits of close and intimate friendship with him. The talents of Lord George: were well known and admitted, and his political principles led him to the same side of the question that was so warmly espoused by Junius. It is said, however, that on one occasion his lordship privately observed to a friend of his, I should be proud to be capable of writing as Junius has done; but there are many passages in his letters I should be very sorry to have written.' Such a declaration, however, is too general to be in any way conclusive: even Junius himself might, in a subsequent period, have regretted that he had written some of the passages that occur in his letters. In the case of his letter to Junia, we know he did, from his own avowal. It is nevertheless peculiarly hostile to the opinion in favour of Lord G. Sackville, that Junius should roundly have accused him of want of courage, as he has done in Vol. II. p. 491. The facts, however, are fairly before the reader, and he shall be left to the exercise of his own judgment." P. 161.

[ocr errors]

In another part of the Essay, the subject is adverted to in these terms:

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »