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The Letters of Junius

Letter V: To Sir William Draper, Knight of the Bath: 21 February 1769

Sir

I should justly be suspected of acting upon motives of more than common enmity to Lord Granby, if I continued to give you fresh materials or occasion for writing in his defence. Individuals who hate, and the public who despise, have read your letters, Sir William, with infinitely more satisfaction than mine. Unfortunately for him, his reputation, like that unhappy country to which you refer me for his last military achievements, has suffered more by his friends than his enemies. In mercy to him, let us drop the subject. For my own part, I willingly leave it to the public to determine, whether your vindication of your friend has been as able and judicious as it was certainly well intended: and you, I think, may be satisfied with the warm acknowledgments he already owes you, for making him the principal figure in a piece, in which, but for your amicable assistance, he might have passed without particular notice or distinction.

In justice to your friends, let your future labours be confined to the care of your own reputation. Your declaration, that you are happy in seeing young noblemen come among us, is liable to two objections. With respect to Lord Percy, it means nothing; for he was already in the army. He was aid-de-camp to the King, and had the rank of colonel. A regiment, therefore, could not make him a more military man, though it made him richer; and probably at the expence of some brave, deserving, friendless officer. The other concerns yourself. After selling the companions of your victory in one instance, and after selling your profession in the other, by what authority do you presume to call yourself a soldier! The plain evidence of facts is superior to all declarations. Before you were appointed to the 16th regiment, your complaints were a distress to government: from that moment you were silent. The conclusion is inevitable. You insinuate to us, that your ill state of health obliged you to quit the service. The retirement necessary to repair a broken constitution, would have been as good a reason for not accepting, as for resigning, the command of a regiment. There is certainly an error of the press, or an affected obscurity in that paragraph, where you speak of your bargain with colonel Gisborne. Instead of attempting to answer what I do not really understand, permit me to explain to the public what I really know. In exchange for your regiment, you accepted of a colonel's half-pay, (at least £220 a year,) and an annuity of £200 for your own and Lady Draper's life jointly. And is this the losing bargain, which you would represent to us, as if you had given up an income of £800 a year for £380? Was it decent, was it honourable, in a man who pretends to love the army, and calls himself a soldier, to make a traffic of the royal favour, and turn the highest honour of an active profession into a sordid provision for himself and his family? It were unworthy of me to press you farther, The contempt with which the whole army heard of the manner of your retreat, assures me, that, as your conduct was not justified by precedent, it will never be thought an example for imitation.

The last and most important question remains. When you receive your half-pay, do you, or do you not, take a solemn oath, or sign a declaration, upon your honour, to the following effect:— " That you do not actually hold any place of profit, civil or military, under his Majesty?" The charge which the question plainly conveys against you, is of so shocking a complexion, that I sincerely wish you may be able to answer it well; not merely for the colour of your reputation, but for your own inward peace of mind.

JUNIUS.


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