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THE Letters of Junius are to be found in almost every gentleman's library in the kingdom. Their intrinsic ability, their fine flow of language, their disclosure of public events, the boldness with which they were written and ushered into the world ; al combine to stamp upon them that eulogium which Junius himself, without vanity, has inserted in his Dedication to the English Nation :-:
“When Kings and Ministers are forgotten, when the force and direction of personal satire is no longer understood, and when measures are only felt in their remotest consequences, this book will, I believe, be found to contain principles worthy to be transmitted to posterity.”
No other writings have afforded so fine a scope for literary discussion, or have been the theme of so much animadversion. The secrecy preserved by the Author has hitherto eluded all research, and greater mystery is attached to his writings than to the “ EIKIN BALIAIKH” written in the
time of Charles the First. Like the sacred mysteries of Eleusis, the Great Unknown has been enveloped in darkness, which Junius declared to Mr. Wilkes was one source of the sublime. Remove the veil from the former, you discover that the mind has been credulously imposed upon ; but the veil removed from Junius will never lessen the intrinsic merit of his work. It is a solid fabric of human intellect which will for ever stand the test of criticism ; a fabric, the longer we gaze upon the greater is our admiration.
Numerous have been the claimants on behalf of different individuals for this literary trophy, none of whom down to the present hour have so borne the test of criticism as to merit the unfading laurel. The present Enquiry is submitted to the public, with full assurance that the Nobleman in question is entitled to that honour. Seldom, if ever, do the living reap the reward of their labours: when death has fixed his seal to their writings it remains with posterity to bestow the eulogium. Hence a costly monument is the common tribute that is paid to departed worth and genius. : This testimonial of a nation's gratitude is too often bestowed on names which would long ago have been forgotten, were we not occasionally reminded of them by a splendid ap
peal to the understanding ; while the remains of Algernon Sydney and Lord Viscount Sackville lie to this hour in obscurity, with not a stone to mark the place of sanctuary. But the words, actions, and writings of such men as these will find a lasting monumentin every cultivated mind, when the perishable tablet of marble is mingled with the dust. It would far exceed the limits of my pen, and would swell the present volume to an unnecessary size, were I to enter into the claims of those who have been brought forward as candidates for the authorship of the Letters in question ; they have all been ably refuted by men of far keener observation than myself.
I have carefully perused the whole of the voluminous controversy that has taken place at different periods on this interesting subject, wherein the claims of Thomas Hollis, William Henry Cavendish Bentick, John Roberts, J. P. de Lolme, John Horne Tooke, Charles Lloyd, Dr. Wilmot, Lord Shelburne, Samuel Dyer, Colonel Barrè, Bishop Butler, Edmund Burke, Dr. Gilbert Stuart, Hugh Macauley Boyd, Counsellor Dunning, William Greatreakes, Richard Glover, W. G. Hamilton, Rev. P. Rosenhagen, Sir William Jones, General Lee, John Wilkes, Edward Gibbon, and Sir Philip Francis have been brought forward and critically examined. On behalf of some of these individuals
strong presumptive evidence has been adduced, but which evidence has ultimately failed in many of the most material points. I shall therefore pass them over in silence, except the name of Sir Philip Francis, which I shall have occasion to notice further in the first Chapter.
There are also two other noble characters who have at times excited suspicion, but whose names are not inserted in the foregoing catalogue. I allude to the Earl of Chesterfield and Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford. With regard to the former we need only observe, that though his abilities had been unquestionably equal to the undertaking, yet at the advanced age of 74, and uninfluenced by any motive of personal animosity for engaging in such a task, we may rest perfectly satisfied that that suspicion was groundless. His Lordship’s health was declining when Junius was in full possession of his bodily and mental faculties, and he expired in the 80th year of his age, a short time before Mr. Woodfall and Junius concluded their correspondence.
Lord Orford's claims are more worthy of attention. He was a man of very acute observation, was in the meridian of life, and was personally known to most of the leading characters of that day. On these accounts some have ventured to infer that he might be the author ; but their style of writing is so dissimilar, their politi
cal creeds so entirely at variance in many in. stances, and the circle of his friends so opposite to that of Junius, that on an attentive perusal of his “Memoirs and Correspondence", sufficient evidence appears to set the question at rest. These Memoirs extend to the close of the reign of George the Second, after which period he led a retired life at his favourite villa, Strawberry Hill, varying it, however, with occasional excursions to neighbouring counties and the Continent. In 1758, being then in the 42d year of his age, he says—“ Arts, books, painting, architecture, antiquities, and those amiable employments of a tranquil life, to which in the warmest of his political hours he had been fondly addicted, assumed an entire empire over him. The circumstances too of the times contributed to make him withdraw from the scene of business. This resolution he strictly adhered to, for we find that he neither came forward in any public capacity, or united in
administration afterwards. Had he even attempted to alter this resolution, and had he been disappointed, a different class of men would certainly have faller. under his censure; for he lived on intimate terms with, and invariably speaks well of the Duke of Bedford, Lord Trentham, the Graftons, Lord Hertford, and others, against whom the pen of Junius is so freely exercised. On the