The Age of George III

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The Letters of Junius

Letter LXVII: To His Grace the Duke of Grafton; 27 November 1771.

[258] What is the reason, Duke of Graftonmy Lord, that, when almost every man in the kingdom, without distinction of principles or party, exults in the ridiculous defeat of Sir James Lowther, when good and bad men unite in one common opinion of that baronet, and triumph in his distress, as if the event (without any reference to vice or virtue,) were interesting to human nature; your Grace alone should appear so miserably depressed and afflicted? In such universal joy, I know not where you will look for a compliment of condolence, unless you appeal to the tender, sympathetic sorrows of Mr. Bradshaw. That cream-coloured gentleman's tears, affecting as they are, carry consolation along with them. He never weeps, but, like an April shower, with a lambent ray of sunshine upon his countenance. From the feelings of honest men upon this joyful occasion, I do not mean to draw any conclusion to your Grace. They naturally rejoice when they see a signal instance of tyranny resisted with success, of treachery exposed to the derision of the world, an infamous informer defeated, and an impudent robber dragged to the public gibbet. But in the other class of mankind, I own I expected to meet the Duke of Grafton. Men who had no regard for justice, nor any sense of honour, seem as heartily pleased with Sir James Lowther's well-deserved punishment, as if it did not constitute an example against themselves. The unhappy baronet has no friends, even among those who resemble him. You, my Lord, are not reduced to so deplorable a state of dereliction; every villain in the kingdom is your friend; and, in compliment to such amity, I think you should suffer your dismal countenance to clear up. Besides, my Lord, I am a little anxious for the consistency of your character. You violate your own rules of decorum, when you do not insult the man you have betrayed.

The divine justice of retribution seems now to have begun its progress. Deliberate treachery entails punishment [259] upon the traitor. There is no possibility of escaping it, even in the highest rank to which the consent of society can exalt the meanest and worst of men. The forced, unnatural union of Luttrell and Middlesex was an omen of another unnatural union, by which indefeasible infamy is attached to the house of Brunswick. If one of those acts was virtuous and honourable, the best of princes, I thank God, is happily rewarded for it by the other. Your Grace, it has been said, had some share in recommending colonel Luttrell to the king; or was it only the gentle Bradshaw who made himself answerable for the good behaviour of his friend? An intimate connexion has long subsisted between him and the worthy Lord Irnham. It arose from a fortunate similarity of principles, cemented by the constant mediation of their common friend Miss Davis.*

Yet I confess I should be sorry that the opprobrious infamy of this match should reach beyond the family. We have now a better reason than ever to pray for the long

* There is a certain family in this country, on which nature seems to have entailed an hereditary baseness of disposition. As far as their history has been known, the son has regularly improved upon the vices of his father, and has taken care to transmit them pure and undiminished into the bosom of his successor. In the senate, their abilities have confined them to those humble, sordid services, in which the scavengers of the ministry are usually employed. But in the memoirs of private treachery, they stand first and unrivalled. The following story will serve to illustrate the character of this respectable family, and to convince the world, that the present possessor has as clear a title to the infamy of his ancestors, as he has to their estate. It deserves to be recorded for the curiosity of the fact, and should be given to the public, as a warning to every honest member of society.

The present Lord Irnham, who is now in the decline of life, lately cultivated the acquaintance of a younger brother of a family, with which he had lived in some degree of intimacy and friendship. The young man had long been the dupe of a most unhappy attachment to a common prostitute. His friends and relations foresaw the consequences of this connexion, and did every thing that depended upon them to save him from ruin. But he had a friend in Lord Irnham, whose advice rendered all their endeavours ineffectual. This hoary lecher, not contented with the enjoyment of his friend's mistress, was base enough to take advantage of the passions and folly of the young man, and persuaded him to marry her. He descended even to perform the office of father to the prostitute. He gave her to his friend, who was on the point of leaving the kingdom, and the next night lay with her himself.

Whether the depravity of the human heart can produce any thing more base and detestable than this fact, must be left undetermined, until the son shall arrive at his father's age and experience.

[260] life of the best of princes, and the welfare of his royal issue. I will not mix any thing ominous with my prayers: but let parliament look to it. A Luttrell shall never succeed to the crown of England. If the hereditary virtues of the family deserve a kingdom, Scotland will be a proper retreat for them.

The next is a most remarkable instance of the goodness of Providence. The just law of retaliation has at last overtaken the little contemptible tyrant of the north. To this son-in-law of your dearest friend, the Earl of Bute, you meant to transfer the Duke of Portland's property; and you hastened the grant with an expedition unknown to the treasury, that he might have it time enough to give a decisive turn to the election for the county. The immediate consequence of this flagitious robbery was, that he lost the election which you meant to insure him, and with such signal circumstances of scorn, reproach, and insult, (to say nothing of the general exultation of al parties,) as (excepting the king's brother-in-law, colonel Luttrell, and old Simon, his father-in-law) hardly ever fell upon a gentleman in this country. In the event, he loses the very property of which he thought he had gotten possession, and after an expense which would have paid the value of the land in question twenty times over. The forms of villany, you see, are necessary to its success. Hereafter you will act with greater circumspection, and not drive so directly to your object. To snatch a grace beyond the reach of common treachery, is an exception, not a rule.

And now, my good Lord, does not your conscious heart inform you, that the justice of retribution begins to operate, and that it may soon approach your person? Do you think that Junius has renounced the Middlesex election? or that the king's timber shall be refused to the royal navy with impunity? or that you shall hear no more of the sale of that patent to Mr. Hine, which you endeavour to screen by suddenly dropping your prosecution of [261] Samuel Vaughan, when the rule against him was made absolute? I believe, indeed, there never was such an instance in all the history of negative impudence. But it shall not save you. The very sunshine you live in is a prelude to your dissolution. When you are ripe, you shall be plucked.


P. S. I beg you will convey to your gracious master my humble congratulations upon the glorious success of peerages and pensions so lavishly distributed as the rewards of Irish virtue.

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