of his people. Their real honour and real interest are the same. I am not contending for a vain punctilio. A clear, unblemished character, comprehends not only the integrity that will not offer, but the spirit that will not submit to, an injury; and whether it belongs to an individual, or to a community, it is the foundation of peace, of independence, and of safety. Private credit is wealth ; public honour is security. The feather that adorns the royal bird, supports his fight; strip him of his plumage, and you fix him to the earth.






February 6, 1771. I hope your correspondent Junius is better employed than in answering or reading the criticisms of a newspaper. This is a task from which, if he were inclined to submit to it, his friends ought to relieve him. Upon this principle, I shall undertake to answer Anti-Junius, more, I believe, to his conviction than to his satisfaction. Not daring to attack the main body of Junius's last letter, he triumphs in having, as he thinks, surprised an out-post, and cut off a detached argument, a mere straggling proposition. But even in this petty warfare he shall find himself defeated.

Junius does not speak of the Spanish nation as the natural enemies of England. He applies that description,


[ocr errors]

with the strictest truth and justice, to the Spanish court. . From the moment when a prince of the house of Bourbon ascended that throne, their whole system of government was inverted, and became hostile to this

country. Unity of possession introduced a unity of politics ; and Lewis the Fourteenth had reason, when he said to his grandson, “ The Pyrenees are removed.” The history of the present century is one continued confirmation of the prophecy.

The assertion,“That violence and oppression at home can only be supported by treachery and submission abroad,” is applied to a free people whose rights are invaded, not to the government of a country where despotic or absolute power is confessedly vested in the prince; and with this application, the assertion is true. An absolute monarch, having no points to carry at home, will naturally maintain the honour of his crown in all his transactions with foreign powers. But if we could suppose the sovereign of a free nation possessed with a design to make himself absolute, he would be inconsistent with himself if he suffered his projects to be interrupted or embarrassed by a foreign war, unless that war tended, as in some cases it might, to promote his principal design. Of the three exceptions to this general rule of conduct, (quoted by Anti-Junius,) that of Oliver Cromwell is the only one in point. Harry the Eighth, by the submission of his parliament, was as absolute a prince as Lewis the Fourteenth. Queen Elizabeth's government was not oppressive to the people; and, as to her foreign wars, it ought to be considered, that they were unavoidable. The national honour was not in question; she was compelled to fight in defence of her own person, and of her title to the crown. In the common cause of selfish policy, Oliver Cromwell should have cultivated the friendship of foreign powers, or, at least, bave avoided

[ocr errors]

disputes with them, the better to establish his tyranny at home. Had he been only a bad man, he would have sacrificed the honour of the nation to the success of his domestic policy. But, with all his crimes, he had the spirit of an Englishman. The conduct of such a man must always be an exception to vulgar rules. He had abilities sufficient to reconcile contradictions, and to make a great nation at the same moment unhappy and formidable. If it were not for the respect I bear the minister, I could name a man, who, without one grain of understanding, can do half as much as Oliver Cromwell.

Whether or no there be a secret systern in the closet, and what may be the object of it, are questions which can only be determined by appearances, and on which every man must decide for himself.

The whole plan of Junius's letter proves, that he himself makes no distinction between the real honour of the crown and the real interest of the people. In the climax to which your correspondent objects, Junius adopts the language of the court, and by that conformity gives strength to his argument. He says, that " the king has not only sacrificed the interests of his people, but (what was likely to touch him more nearly) his personal reputation, and the dignity of his crown.”

The queries put by Anti-Junius can only be answered by the ministry. Abandoned as they are, I fancy they will not confess that they have, for so many years, maintained possession of another man's property. After admitting the assertion of the ministry, viz. “ That the Spaniards had no rightful claim," and after justifying them for saying so, it is his business, not mine, to give us some good reason for their suffering the pretensions of Spain to be a subject of negociation. He admits the facts; let him reconcile them if he can.

· The last paragraph brings us back to the original question, whether the Spanish declaration contains such: a satisfaction as the king of Great Britain ought to. have accepted? This was the field upon which he ought to have encountered Junius openly and fairly. But here he leaves the argument, as no longer defensible. I shall, therefore, conclude with one general admonition to my fellow-subjects: That when they hear these matters debated, they should not suffer themselves to be misled by general declamations upon the conveniencies of peace, or the miseries of war. Between peace and war, abstractedly, there is not, there cannot be, a question in the mind of a rational being. The real questions are, Have we any security, that the peace we have so dearly purchased will last a twelvemonth? and if not, Have we, or have we not, sacrificed the fairest opportunity of making war with advantage!






April 22, 1771. To write for profit, without taxing the press; to write for fame, and to be unknown; to support the intrigues of faction, and to be disowned, as a dangerous auxiliary, by every party in the kingdom, are contradictions which the minister must reconcile, before I forfeit

my credit with the public. I may quit the service, but it would be absurd to suspect me of desertion. The reputation of these papers is an honourable pledge for my attachment to the people. To sacrifice a respected character, and to renounce the esteem of society, requires more than Mr. Wedderburne's resolution; and though in him it was rather a profession than a desertion of his principles,(I speak ienderly of this gentleman; for when treachery is in question, I think we should make allowances for a Scotchman,) yet we have seen him in the House of Commons overwhelmed with confusion, and almost bereft of his faculties. But, in truth, sir, I have left no room for an accommodation with the piety of St. James's; my offences are not to be redeemed by recantation or repentance. On one side, our warmest patriots would disclaim me as a burden to their honest ambition : On the other, the vilest prostitution (if Junius could descend to it) would lose its natural merit and influence in the cabinet, and treachery be no longer a recommendation to the royal favour.

The persons who, till within these few years, have been most distinguished by their zeal for high church and prerogative, are now, it seems, the great assertors of the privileges of the House of Commons. This sudden alteration of their sentiments, or language, carries with it a suspicious appearance. When I hear the undefined privileges of the popular branch of the legislature exalted by tories and jacobites, at the expence of those strict rights, which are known to the subject, and limited by the laws, I cannot but suspect, that some mischievous scheme is in agitation, to destroy both law and privilege, by opposing them to each other. They who have uniformly denied the power of the whole legislature to alter the descent of the crown, and whose ancestors, in rebellion against his majesty's family, have defended that

« ElőzőTovább »