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The Letters of Junius

Letter III: Junius to Sir William Draper, Knight of the Bath: 7 February 1769

[13] February 7, 1769.

SIR,

YOUR defence of Lord Granby does honour to the goodness of your heart. You feel, as you ought to do, for the reputation of your friend, and you express yourself in the warmest language of your passions. In any other cause, I doubt not you would have cautiously weighed the consequences of committing your name to the licentious discourses and malignant opinions of the world. But here, I presume, you thought it would be a breach of friendship to lose one moment in consulting your understanding; as if an appeal to the public were no more than a military coup de main, where a brave man has no rules to follow but the dictates of his courage. Touched with your generosity I freely forgive the excesses into which it has led you; and, far from resenting those terms of reproach, which, considering that you are an advocate for decorum, you have heaped upon me rather too liberally, I place them to the account of all honest, unreflecting indignation, in which your cooler judgment and natural politeness had no concern. I approve of the spirit with which you have given your name to the public; and, if it were a proof of any thing but spirit, I should have thought myself bound to follow your example. I should have hoped, that even my name might carry some authority with it, if I had not seen how very little weight or consideration, a printed paper receives, even from the respectable signature of Sir William Draper.

You begin with a general assertion, that writers, such as I am, are the real cause of all the public evils we complain of. And do you really think, Sir William, that the licentious pen of a political writer is able to produce such important effects? A little calm reflection might have shewn you, that national calamities do not arise from the description, but from the real character and conduct of ministers. To have supported your assertion you should have proved that the present ministry are unquestionably the best and brightest characters of the kingdom; and that, if the [14] affections of the colonies have been alienated, if Corsica has been shamefully abandoned, if commerce languishes, if public credit is threatened with a new debt, and your own Manilla ransom most dishonourably given up, it has all been owing to the malice of political writers, who will not suffer the best and brightest characters (meaning still the present ministry) to take a single right step for the honour or interest of the nation. But it seems you were a little tender of coming to particulars. Your conscience insinuated to you that it would be prudent to leave the characters of Duke of GraftonGrafton, North, Hillsborough, Weymouth, and Mansfield, to shift for themselves; and truly, Sir William, the part you have undertaken is at least as much as you are equal to.

Without disputing Lord Granby's courage, we are yet to learn in what articles of military knowledge, nature has been so very liberal to his mind. If you have served with him, you ought to have pointed out some instances of able disposition, and well-concerted enterprise, which might fairly be attributed to his capacity as a general. It is you, Sir William, who make your friend appear awkward and ridiculous, by giving him a laced suit of tawdry qualifications, which nature never intended him to wear.

You say, he has acquired nothing but honour in the field. Is the ordnance nothing? Are the Blues nothing? Is the command of the army, with all the patronage annexed to it, nothing? Where he got these nothings I know not; but you at least ought to have told us when he deserved there.

As to his bounty, compassion, &c. it would have been but little to the purpose, though you had proved all that you have asserted. I meddle with nothing but his character as commander in chief: and though I acquit him of the baseness of selling commissions, I still assert, that his military cares have never extended beyond the disposal of vacancies; and I am justified by the complaints of the whole army, when I say, that, in this distribution, he consults nothing but parliamentary interests, or the gratification of his immediate dependents. As to his servile submission to the reigning ministry, let me ask, Whether he did not desert the cause of the whole army, when he suffered Sir Jeffery Amherst to be sacrificed, and what share he had in recalling that officer to the service? Did he [15] not betray the just interest of the army, in permitting Lord Percy to have a regiment? And does he not, at this moment, give up all character and dignity as a gentleman, in receding from his own repeated declarations in favour of Mr. Wilkes ?

In the two next articles, I think, we are agreed. You candidly admit, that he often makes such promises as it is a virtue in him to violate, and that no man is more assiduous to provide for his relations at the public expence. I did not urge the last as an absolute vice in his disposition, but to prove, that a careless, disinterested spirit is no part of his character: and as to the other, I desire it may be remembered, that I never descended to the indecency of enquiring into his convivial hours. It is you, Sir William Draper, who have taken pains to represent your friend in the character of a drunken landlord, who deals out his promises as liberally as his liquor, and will suffer no man to leave his table either sorrowful or sober. None but an intimate friend, who must frequently have seen him in these unhappy disgraceful moments, could have described him so well.

The last charge, of the neglect of the army, is indeed the most material of all. I am sorry to tell you, Sir William, that in this article your first fact is false: and as there is nothing more painful to me than to give a direct contradiction to a gentleman of your appearance, I could wish, that, in your future publications, you would pay a greater attention to the truth of your premises, before you suffer your genius to hurry you to a conclusion. Lord Ligonier did not deliver the army (which you, in classical language, are pleased to call a palladium) into Lord Granby's hands. It was taken from him, much against his inclination, some two or three years before Lord Granby was commander in chief. As to the state of the army, I should be glad to know where you have received your intelligence. Was it in the rooms at Bath, or at your retreat at Clifton? The reports of the reviewing generals comprehend only a few regiments in England, which, as they are immediately under the royal inspection, are, perhaps, in some tolerable order. But do you know any thing of the troop's in the West Indies, the Mediterranean, and North America, to say nothing of a whole army absolutely ruined in Ireland? Enquire a little into facts, Sir William, before you [16] publish your next panegyric upon Lord Granby; and believe me, you will find there is a fault at head-quarters, which even the acknowledged care and abilities of the adjutant-general cannot correct.

Permit me now, Sir William, to address myself personally to you, by way of thanks for the honour of your correspondence. You are by no means undeserving of notice; and it may be of consequence, even to Lord Granby, to have it determined, whether or no the man who has praised him so lavishly, be himself deserving of praise.— When you returned to Europe, you zealously undertook the cause of that gallant army, by whose bravery at Manilla your own fortune had been established. You complained, you threatened, you even appealed to the public in print. By what accident did it happen, that, in the midst of all this bustle, and all these clamours for justice to your injured troops, the name of the Manilla ransom was suddenly buried in a profound, and, since that time, an uninterrupted silence? Did the ministry suggest any motives to you, strong enough to tempt a man of honour to desert and betray the cause of his fellow soldiers? Was it that blushing ribbon which is now the perpetual ornament of your person? Or, was it that regiment which you afterwards (a thing unprecedented among soldiers) sold to colonel Gisborne? Or, was it that government, the full pay of which you are contented to hold, with the half-pay of an Irish colonel? And do you now, after a retreat not very like that of Scipio, presume to intrude yourself, unthought of, uncalled for, upon the patience of the public? Are your flatteries of the commander in chief directed to another regiment, which you may again dispose of on the same honourable terms? We know your prudence, Sir William; and I should be sorry to stop your preferment.

JUNIUS.


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