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The Letters of Junius

Letter IV: Sir William Draper to Junius: 17 February 1769

[19] February 17, 1769,

SIR,

I RECEIVED Junius's favour last night: he is determined to keep his advantage by the help of his mask: it is all excellent protection; it has saved many a man from an untimely end. But whenever he will be honest enough to lay it aside, avow himself, and produce the face which has so long lurked behind it, the world will be able to judge of his motives for writing such infamous invectives.His real name will discover his freedom and independency, or his servility to a faction. Disappointed ambition, resentment for defeated hopes, and desire of revenge, assume but too often the appearance of public spirit: but, be his designs wicked or charitable, Junius should learn, that it is possible to condemn measures, without a barbarous and criminal outrage against men. Junius delights to mangle carcases with a hatchet: his language and instrument have a great connection with Clare-market; and, to do him justice, he handles his weapon most admirably. One would imagine he had been taught to throw it, by the savages of America. It is, therefore, high time for me to step in once more to shield my friend from this merciless weapon, although I may be wounded in the attempt. But I must first ask Junius, by what forced analogy and construction, the moments of convivial mirth are made to signify indecency, a violation of engagements, a drunken landlord, and a desire that every one in company should be drunk likewise? He must have culled all the flowers of St. Giles's and Billingsgate, to have produced such a piece of oratory. Here the hatchet descends with ten-fold vengeance: but, alas! it hurts no one but its master! For Junius must not think to put words into my mouth, that seem too foul even for his own.

My friend's political engagements I know not; so cannot pretend to explain them, or assert their consistency. I know not whether Junius be considerable enough to belong to any party. If he should be so, can he affirm, that [20] to assert the rights of my brave companions. I glory, likewise, that I have never taken up my pen, but to vindicate the injured. Junius asks, by what accident did it happen, that, in the midst of all this bustle, and all the clamours for justice to the injured troops, the Manilla ransom was suddenly buried in a profound, and, since that time, an uninterrupted silence? I will explain the cause to the public. The several ministers who have been employed since that time, have been very desirous to do justice, from two most laudable motives, a strong inclination to assist injured bravery, and to acquire a well-deserved popularity to themselves. Their efforts have been in vain. Some were ingenuous enough to own, that they could not think of involving this distressed nation in another war for our private concerns. In short, our rights, for the present, are sacrificed to national convenience; and I must: confess, that although I may lose five-and-twenty thousand pounds by their acquiescence to this breach of faith in the Spaniards, I think they are in the right to temporize, considering the critical situation of this country, convulsed in every part, by poison infused by anonymous, wicked, and incendiary writers. Lord Shelburne will do me the justice to own, that, in September last, I waited upon him with a joint memorial from the admiral, Sir S. Cornish, and myself, in behalf of our injured companions. His Lordship was as frank upon the occasion as other secretaries had been before him. He did not deceive us, by giving any immediate hopes of relief.

Junius would basely insinuate, that my silence may have been purchased by my government, by my blushing ribbon, by my regiment, by the sale of that regiment, and by half-pay as an Irish colonel.

His Majesty was pleased to give me my government for my service at Madras. I had my first regiment in 1757. Upon my return from Manilla, his Majesty, by Lord Egremont, informed me, that I should have the first vacant red ribbon, as a reward for many services in an enterprize which I had planned as well as executed. The Duke of Bedford and Mr. Grenville confirmed those assurances, many months before the Spaniards had protested the ransom bills. To accommodate Lord Clive, then going, upon a most important service to Bengal, I waved my claim to the vacancy which then happened. As there [21] was no other vacancy until the Duke of Grafton and Lord Rockingham were joint ministers, I was then honoured with the order; and it is surely no small honour to me, that, in such a succession of ministers, they were all pleased to think that I had deserved it; in my favour they were all united. Upon the reduction of the 79th regiment, which had served so gloriously in the East Indies, his Majesty, unsolicited by me, gave me the 16th of foot as an equivalent. My motives for retiring, afterwards, are foreign to the purpose: let it suffice, that his Majesty was pleased to approve of them: they are such as no man can think indecent, who knows the shocks that repeated vicissitudes of heat and cold, of dangerous and sickly climates, will give to the best constitutions, in a pretty long course of service. I resigned my regiment to colonel Gisborne, a very good officer, for his half-pay, and £200 Irish annuity: so that, according to Junius, I have been bribed to say nothing more of the Manilla ransom, and to sacrifice those brave men, by the strange avarice of accepting £380 per annum, and giving up £800! If this be bribery, it is not the bribery of these times. As to my flattery, those who know me will judge of it. By the asperity of Junius's style, I cannot, indeed, call him a flatterer, unless he be as a cynic or a mastiff: if he wags his tail, he will still growl, and long to bite. The public will now judge of the credit that ought to be given to Junius's writings, from the falsities that he has insinuated with respect to myself.

WILLIAM DRAPER.


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