The Age of George III

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The Letters of Junius

Letter LII: To the Reverend Mr. Horne; 24 July 1771.

[207] SIR

I CANNOT descend to an altercation with you in the newspapers: but since I have attacked your character, and you complain of injustice, I think you have some right to an explanation. You defy me to prove, that you ever solicited a vote, or wrote a word in support of the ministerial aldermen. Sir, I did never suspect you of such gross folly. It would have been impossible for Mr. Horne to have solicited votes, and very difficult to have written in the newspapers in defence of that cause, without being detected, and brought to shame. Neither do I pretend to any intelligence concerning you, or to know more of your conduct than you yourself have thought proper to communicate to the public. It is from your own letters, I [208] conclude, that you have sold yourself to the Ministry; or, if that charge be too severe, and supposing it possible to be deceived by appearances so very strongly against you, what are your friends to say in your defence? Must they not confess, that, to gratify your personal hatred of Mr. Wilkes, you sacrificed, as far as depended on your interest and abilities, the cause of'the country? I can make allowance for the violence of the passions; and if ever I should be convinced that you had no motive but to destroy Wilkes, I shall then be ready to do justice to your character, and to declare to the world, that I despise you somewhat less than I do at present. But, as a public man, I must for ever condemn you. You cannot but know, (nay, you dare not pretend to be ignorant) that the highest gratifications of which the most detestable* in this nation is capable, would have been the defeat of Wilkes. I know that man much better than any of you. Nature intended him only for a good-humoured fool. A systematical education, with long practice, has made him a consummate hypocrite. Yet this man, to say nothing of his worthy Ministers, you have most assiduously laboured to gratify. To exclude Wilkes, it was not necessary you should solicit votes for his opponents. We incline the balance as effectually by lessening the weight in one scale, as by increasing it in the other.

The mode of your attack upon Wilkes (though I am far from thinking meanly of your abilities) convinces me that you either want judgment extremely, or that you are blinded by your resentment. You ought to have foreseen that the charges you urged against Wilkes could never do him any mischief. After all, when we expected discoveries highly interesting to the community, what a pitiful detail did it end in!— some old cloathes,—a Welch poney—a French Footman—and a hamper of claret. Indeed, Mr. Horne, the public should and will forgive him his claret and his footman, and even the ambition of making his brother chamberlain of London, as long as he stands forth against a Ministry and Parliament who are doing every thing they can to enslave the country, and as long as he is a thorn in the King's side. You will not suspect me of setting up Wilkes for a perfect character. The question to the public is, where shall we find a man who, with purer principles, will go the lengths, and run the [209] hazards, that he has done? The season calls for such a man, and he ought to be supported. What would have been the triumph of that odious hypocrite and his minions, if Wilkes had been defeated! It was not your fault, reverend sir, that he did not enjoy it completely. But now, I promise you, you have so little power to do mischief, that I much question whether the ministry will adhere to the promises they have made you. It will be in vain to say that I am a partizan of Mr. Wilkes, or personally your enemy. You will convince no man, for you do not believe it yourself. Yet I confess I am a little offended at the low rate at which you seem to value my understanding. I beg, Mr. Horne, you will hereafter believe, that I measure the integrity of men by their conduct, not by their professions. Such tales may entertain Mr. Oliver, or your grandmother; but, trust me, they are thrown away upon Junius.

You say you are a man. — Was it generous, was it manly, repeatedly to introduce into a newspaper, the name of a young lady with whom you must heretofore have lived on terms of politeness and good humour? But I have done with you. In my opinion, your credit is irrevocably ruined. Mr. Townshend, I think, is nearly in the same predicament. Poor Oliver has been shamefully duped by you. You have made him sacrifice all the honour he got by his imprisonment. As for Mr. Sawbridge, whose character I really respect, I am astonished he does not see through your duplicity. Never was so base a design so poorly conducted. This letter,* you see, is not intended for the public; but, if you think it will do you any service, you are at liberty to publish it.


*This letter was transmitted privately by the printer to Mr. Horned, at Junius' request. Mr. Horne returned it to the printer, with directions to publish it.

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