The Age of George III

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The Letters of Junius

Letter XLV: To the Printer of the Public Advertiser; 1 May 1771

[191] SIR

They who object to detached parts of Junius's last letter, either do not mean him fairly, or have not considered the general scope and course of his argument. There are degrees in all the private vices; why not in public prostitution? The influence of the crown naturally makes a septennial parliament dependent. Does it follow, that every house of commons will plunge at once into the lowest depths of prostitution? Junius supposes, that the present house of commons, in going such enormous lengths, have been imprudent to themselves, as well as wicked to the public; that their example is not within the reach of emulation; and that, in the first session after the next election, some popular measures may probably be adopted. He does not expect that a dissolution of parliament will destroy corruption, but that, at least, it will be a check and terror to their successors, who will have seen, that, in flagrant cases, their constituents can and will interpose with effect. After all, sir, will you not endeavour to remove or alleviate the most dangerous symptoms, because you cannot eradicate the disease? [192] Will you not punish treason or parricide, because the sight of a gibbet does not prevent high-way robberies? When the main argument of Junius is admitted to be unanswerable, I think it would become the minor critic, who hunts for blemishes, to be little more distrustful of his own sagacity. The other objection is hardly worth an answer. When Junius observes, that kings are ready enough to follow such advice, he does not mean to insinuate, that, if the advice of parliament were good, the king would be so ready to follow it.


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