The Age of George III

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The Letters of Junius

Letter LI: From the Reverend Mr. Horne to Junius; 13 July 1771.

[205] SIR

FARCE, comedy, and tragedy.— Wilkes, Foote and Junius united at the same time against one poor parson, are fearful odds. The two former are only labouring in their vocation, and may equally plead, in excuse, that their aim is a livelihood. I admit the plea for the second: his is an honest calling, and my clothes were lawful game; but I cannot so readily approve Mr. Wilkes, or commend him for making patriotism a trade, and a fraudulent trade. But what shall I say to Junius? the grave, the solemn, the didactic! Ridicule, indeed, has been ridiculously called the test of truth; but surely, to confess [206] that you lose your natural moderation when mention is made of the man, does not promise much truth or justice when you speak of him yourself.

You charge me with "a new zeal in support" of administration," and with "endeavours in support of the ministerial nomination of sheriffs." The reputation which your talents have deservedly gained to the signature of Junius, draws from me a reply, which I disdained to give to the anonymous lies of Mr. Wilkes, You make frequent use of the word gentleman, I only call myself a man, and desire no other distinction. If you are either, you are bound to make good your charges, or to confess that you have done me a hasty injustice upon no authority,

I put the matter fairly to issue. I say that, so far from any "new zeal in support of administration," I am possessed with the utmost abhorrence of their measures; and that I have ever shewn myself, and am still ready, in any rational manner, to lay down all I have — my life, in opposition to those measures. I say, that I have not, and never have had, any communication or connexion of any kind, directly or indirectly, with any courtier or ministerial man, or any of their adherents; that I never have received, or solicited, or expected, or desired, or do now hope for, any reward of any sort, from any party or set of men in administration, or opposition. I say, that I never used any " endeavours in support of the ministerial nomination of sheriffs;" that I did not solicit any one liveryman for his vote for any one of the candidates, nor employ any other person to solicit; and that I did not write one single line or word in favour of Mess. Plumbe and Kirkman, whom I understand to have been supported by the Ministry.

You are bound to refute what I here advance, or to lose your credit for veracity. You must produce facts; surmise and general abuse, in however elegant language, ought not to pass for proofs. You have every advantage, and I have every disadvantage: you are unknown; I give my name. All parties, both in and out of administration, have their reasons (which I shall relate hereafter) for uniting in their wishes against me: and the popular prejudice is as strongly in your favour as it is violent against the Parson.

Singular as my present situation is, it is neither painful, [207] nor was it unforeseen. He is not fit for public business, who does not, even at his entrance, prepare his mind for such an event. Health, fortune, tranquillity, and private connexions, I have sacrificed upon the altar of the public; and the only return I received, because I will not concur to dupe and mislead a senseless multitude, is barely, that they have not yet torn me in pieces. That this has been the only return is my pride, and a source of more real satisfaction than honours or prosperity. I can practise, before I am old, the lessons I learned in my youth ; nor shall I forget the words of my ancient monitor:

'Tis the last key-stone
That makes the arch : the rest that there were put,
Are nothing till that comes to bind and shut;
Then stands it a triumphal mark! Then men
Observe the strength, the height, the why and when
It was erected; and still, walking under,
Meet some new matter to look up and wonder!

I am, Sir, your humble Servant,


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