The Age of George III

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The Letters of Junius

Letter L: To His Grace the Duke of Grafton; 9 July 1771.

[202] MY LORD

THE influence of your Grace's fortune still seems to preside over the treasury. The genius of Mr. Bradshaw inspires Mr. Robinson*. How remarkable it is (and I speak of it not as a matter of reproach, but as something peculiar to your character) that you have never yet formed a friendship, which has not been fatal to the object of it; nor adopted a cause, to which, one way or other, you have not done mischief! Your attachment is infamy while it lasts; and, whichever way it turns, leaves ruin and disgrace behind it. The deluded girl who yields to such a profligate, even while he is constant, forfeits her reputation as well as her innocence, and finds herself abandoned at last to misery and shame. Thus it happened with the best of Princes. — Poor Dingley, too! I protest I hardly know which of them we ought most to lament; the unhappy man who sinks under the sense of his dishonour, or him who survives it. Characters so finished are placed beyond the reach of panegyric. Death has fixed his zeal upon Dingley; and you, my Lord, have set your mark upon the other.

The only letter I ever addressed to the King was so unkindly received, that I believe I shall never presume to trouble his Majesty in that way again. But my zeal for his service is superior to neglect; and, like Mr. Wilkes's patriotism, thrives by persecution. Yet his Majesty is much addicted to useful reading; and, if I am not ill informed, has honoured the Public Advertiser with particular attention. I have endeavoured, therefore, and not without success, (as, perhaps, you may remember,) to furnish it with such interesting and edifying intelligence, as probably would not reach him through any other channel. The services you have done the nation, your

*'By an intercepted letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, it appeared, that the friends of government were to be very active in supporting the ministerial nomination of sheriff.

[203] integrity in office, and signal fidelity to your approved good Master, have been faithfully recorded. Nor have his own virtues been entirely neglected. These letters, my Lord, are read in other countries, and in other languages; and I think I may affirm, without vanity, that the gracious character of the best of Princes is, by this time, not only perfectly known to his subjects, but tolerably well understood by the rest of Europe. In this respect alone I have the advantage of Mr. Whitehead. His plan, I think, is too narrow. He seems to manufacture his verses for the sole use of the hero who is supposed to be the subject of them, and, that his meaning may not be exported in foreign bottoms, sets all translation at defiance.

Your Grace's re-appointment to a seat in the cabinet was announced to the public by the ominous return of Lord Bute to this country. When that noxious planet approaches England, he never fails to bring plague and pestilence along with him. The King already feels the malignant effect of your influence over his councils. Your former administration made Mr.Wilkes an alderman of London, and representative of Middlesex. Your next appearance in office is marked with his election to the shrievalty. In whatever measure you are concerned, you are not only disappointed of success, but always contrive to make the government of the best of Princes contemptible in his own eyes, and ridiculous to the whole world. Making all due allowance for the effect of the Minister's declared interposition, Mr. Robinson's activity, and Mr. Horne's new zeal in support of administration, we still want the genius of the Duke of Grafton to account for committing, the whole interest of government in the city to the conduct of Mr. Harley. I will not bear hard upon your faithful friend and emissary, Mr. Touchet; for I know the difficulties of his situation, and that a few lottery tickets are of use to his economy. There is a proverb concerning persons in the predicament of this gentleman, which, however, cannot be strictly applied to him: "They commence dupes, and finish knaves". Now, Mr, Touchet's character is uniform. I am convinced that his sentiments never depended upon his circumstances; and that, in the most prosperous state of his fortune, he was always the very man he is at present. But was there no other person of rank and consequence in the city, [204] whom government could confide in, but a notorious Jacobite? Did you imagine that the whole body of the dissenters, that the whole Whig interest of London, would attend at the levee, and submit to the directions of a notorious Jacobite? Was there no Whig magistrate in the city, to whom the servants of George the Third could entrust the management of a business so very interesting to their Master as the election of sheriffs? Is there no room at St. James's but for Scotchmen and Jacobites? My Lord, I do not mean to question the sincerity of Mr. Harley's attachment to his Majesty's government. Since the commencement of the present reign, I have seen still greater contradictions reconciled. The principles of these worthy Jacobites are not so absurd as they have been represented. Their ideas of divine right are not so much annexed to the person or family, as to the political character of the Sovereign. Had there ever been an honest man among the Stuarts, his Majesty's present friends would have been Whigs upon principle. But the conversion of the best of Princes has removed their scruples. They have forgiven him the sins of his Hanoverian ancestors, and acknowledged the hand of Providence in the descent of the Crown upon the head of a true Stuart. In you, my Lord, they also behold, with a kind of predilection which borders upon loyalty, the natural representative of that illustrious family. The mode of your descent from Charles the Second is only a bar to your pretensions to the Crown, and no way interrupts the regularity of your succession to all the virtues of the Stuarts.

The unfortunate success of the Reverend Mr. Horne's endeavours in support of the ministerial nomination of sheriffs, will, I fear, obstruct his preferment. Permit me to recommend him to your Grace's protection. You will find him copiously gifted with those qualities of the heart which usually direct you in the choice of your friendships. he too was Mr. Wilkes's friend, and as incapable as you are of the liberal resentment of a gentleman. No, my Lord; it was the solitary, vindictive malice of a monk, brooding over the infirmities of his friend, until he thought they quickened into public life, and feasting with a rancorous rapture upon the sordid catalogue of his distresses. Now let him go back to his cloister. The church is [205] a proper retreat for him. In his principles he is already a bishop.

The mention of this man has moved me from my natural moderation. Let me return to your Grace. You are the pillow upon which I am determined to rest all my resentments. What idea can the best of Sovereigns form to himself of his own government? In what repute can he conceive that he stands with the people, when he sees, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that, whatever be the office, the suspicion of his favour is fatal to the candidate; and that, when the party he wishes well to has the fairest prospect of success, if his royal inclination should unfortunately be discovered, it drops like an acid, and turns the election?

This event, among others, may, perhaps, contribute to open his Majesty's eyes, to his real honour and interest. In spite of all your Grace's ingenuity, he may, at last, perceive the inconvenience of selecting, with such a curious felicity, every villain in the nation to fill the various departments of his government. Yet I should be sorry to confine him in the choice cither of his footmen or his friends.


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